As the news broke this morning that Iceland’s £500,000 Christmas ad had been banned from TV, it made me wonder whether this has worked in their favour…

I first saw Iceland’s tweet this morning with 5.7k retweets and 433 comments already and was intrigued to watch a Christmas ad that had been banned.

With Christmas adverts anticipated nearly as much as the big day itself, and retailers reliant on pulling in significant sales over this period to support them through the rest of the year, could this have been make or break for Iceland?

The Christmas advert cannot be shown on television as it does not comply with “the political rules” of the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice. The supermarket used a Greenpeace animated film to create a campaign about the use of palm oil to promote a palm oil free Christmas.

With £500,000 spent putting the campaign together it would be easy to think that this had been a disaster. However, has the controversy of the ad being banned worked in Iceland’s favour?

It’s clear from watching the advert that its main objective is to raise awareness of the issue of palm oil and the destruction caused during its production.

Following the retailer’s campaign to remove palm oil from its own label food lines by the end of the year, the campaign highlights the rainforest destruction and impact on endangered orangutans caused by palm oil production.

Iceland’s Managing Director, Richard Walker, said: “Throughout 2018 we have led the retail industry to take action in areas such as the usage of palm oil and plastics, and this year we were keen to do something different with our much-anticipated Christmas advert.

“Whilst our advert sadly never made it to TV screens, we are hopeful that consumers will take to social media to view the film, which raises awareness of an important global issue. Our commitment to say ‘no to palm oil’ remains extremely close to our hearts and we are proud to be encouraging consumers to make sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.”

By 10am on the morning the news broke, the news had already been covered by every national news outlet, hundreds of regional papers, broadcast and, the advert had more than 10.5k views on YouTube and ‘Iceland Christmas’ was trending in the UK on Twitter.

Would the advert have got this much coverage if it had just been launched on TV? I guess we’ll never know, but it does show how an initially perceived negative outcome, can raise awareness of specific issues, garner significant media attention and reach thousands of people across social media.

Once known for its Kerry Katona Christmas adverts, this is a big step for Iceland as the brand looks to tackle serious issues regarding the environment, whilst highlighting the brand to today’s conscious consumers.

In my humble PR opinion I think this is a win for Iceland. Whilst the Christmas advert season is normally dominated by the big four, Iceland does well to cut through this crowded space and draws attention to a serious issue.

We love the Christmas advert season at Cobb HQ and are always on the lookout to see how brands capitalise on the festive time of year. Keep your eyes peeled for our round-up of this year’s Christmas adverts that will be coming soon!