Is this the best Christmas ad ever?

This week British supermarket chain Iceland caught just a small slice of the world’s attention span with their Christmas TV ‘Rang-tan’ ad. Despite being banned, the controversial commercial has been watched by well over 30 million viewers and is on it’s way to becoming the UK’s most popular Christmas ad ever.

In case you missed it….

What’s causing the stir?

The 90-second animated commercial, narrated by actress Emma Thompson, features a cartoon orangutan telling a little girl how it has lost its mother and home, the rainforest, due to deforestation for palm oil products.

Advertising industry advisory body Clearcast rejected the ad as it was originally made by Greenpeace – a political organisation.

And yet…

British celebs from James Corden to Stephen Fry have got behind Iceland, sharing the ad on social media. A petition on change.org to release the ad has received almost 100,000 signatures.

Some argue Iceland knew all along that the ad would be banned and therefore has risked losing customer trust.

They’ve undoubtedly benefited from the outrage. Following the release of the ad on social media, Iceland has recorded 5 per cent sales growth and an increase in market share – no small feat in the tightly fought groceries market.

What’s beyond debate is that Iceland has been outrageously successful in raising the issue of palm oil products to the top of the Christmas ad agenda. 30 million views is not to be sniffed at.

Could they have achieved this had the ad not been banned?

The evolving media landscape

Consumers are increasingly skeptical of politicians, businesses, media outlets. Yet the ‘Rang-tan’ ad has touched hearts and minds, and unleashed the power of social media.

On the one hand, this demonstrates the power of storytelling. This is a great example of how beautiful content can tell an impactful message and cut through the noise of the daily ocean of available content.

On the other hand, we’ve seen over the past week how social media enables people to voice their opinions and share content (even ads) they actually care about. Particularly if they feel that they’re being told they shouldn’t.

Act like you care, and then actually care

What’s more, Iceland actually care. This ad hasn’t come from nowhere. It’s in line with their business strategy.

Over the past year, Iceland has been working towards eliminating palm oil from their own brand food products – the first UK supermarket to make this kind of commitment. In addition, they have pledged to remove plastic packaging from their own label range by 2023.

Iceland customers have been invited to look out for a large “No Palm Oil” badge on their product range.

Aligning your marketing and ad campaigns with your business strategy is vital for establishing trust, and building a following of loyal customers.

Planned or not, the subsequent debate this ad has caused has not only massively benefited Iceland, it’s also done a great deal for driving forward the green agenda and raising awareness around the effects of palm oil products. Win-win? I think so.

 

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