Banned Iceland TV advert: robot orangutan to promote supermarket

banned Iceland TV advert
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In the wake of the banned Iceland TV advert, the supermarket chain plans to release a lifesize animatronic orangutan into the UK.

The banned Iceland TV advert, which has been viewed more than four million times on Youtube and more than 12 million times on Facebook, featured a sad orangutan named Rang-Tan which had been displaced from its home by deforestation caused by the palm oil industry. The advert was banned by Clearcast, the approval body for television advertising, because the video was made by the environmental pressure group Greenpeace and had been on Greenpeace’s website for several months before its purchase by Iceland.

A petition on Change.Org calling for the banned Iceland TV advert to be allowed to appear on UK television attracted almost 750,000 signatures, in part due to promotion from high profile figures such as James Corden and Michael Gove.

The animatronic orangutan, built by a team whose resume includes Doctor Who and Sherlock, will debut in south London and make appearances at locations around the capital, before making a tour of the country’s Iceland branches, ostensibly “looking for a new home” in keeping with the theme of the banned Iceland TV advert. It will be controlled remotely by a specialist puppeteer who has studied the movements of real orangutans, to maximise verisimilitude.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said: “Our stranded, distressed orangutan is a stark and potent symbol of the effects of deforestation. We are determined to be at the forefront of efforts to guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction and Iceland will continue to be a driving force until this environmental impact is drastically reduced.” Iceland has pledged to remove palm oil from all its own brand foods.

Iceland has been accused of releasing the rebadged advert in the knowledge that it would be withdrawn, in order to capitalise on the controversy around a “banned Iceland TV advert”; a not uncommon tactic which has the potential to reach a much greater market share for significantly less financial outlay that traditional advertising techniques.

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