The topic was not new to me, I have been aware of the environmental impact of palm oil for some time, including the destruction of the orangutan’s natural habitat in South East Asia. However, while watching this advert the emotion of this needless destruction hit me, I was in tears! This sparked a number of personal actions, including seeking out palm oil free products, signing online petitions, writing to my parliamentary representative and donating to a wildlife charity. It got me thinking about how this campaign had been so effective…
This advert was for a UK-based supermarket, Iceland, with support from Greenpeace. This type of collaboration for an advert is really interesting and to my knowledge, quite unusual. It had a positive impact as it helped to avoid the perception of ‘corporate spin’ thereby increasing public trust in the message.
Iceland have also put their money where their mouth is, by removing palm oil from their own-brand products and campaigning more broadly:https://www.iceland.co.uk/environment/
Concrete actions of this sort are important to make a campaign work. Of course Iceland also ultimately hope this will differentiate them from competition and help them gain customers. Even so, I would love to see more collaborations of this sort – there is a lot to gain from partnering for all sides!
The advert was banned from television as it was deemed political. This resulted in it going viral online, creating impact as it became a talking point. By early 2019, the advert had been viewed over 5.8m times on one YouTube upload alone. It was shared on Facebook by a number of my friends, this kind of endorsement is powerful as it utilises personal connections.
During a radio show breakfast debate on the topic, Iceland’s Chief Executive defended their palm oil policy. It was clear a strong media briefing had taken place, he represented the issue in a factual and persuasive manner. There remain controversies about the fact the Iceland policy will not be implemented in full until beginning 2019. The company being honest and transparent on areas for improvement is also important to maintain credibility.
The advert is a cartoon, which has narration by a young child – it benefits from not being an academic lecture-style format. It starts off relatively innocently, roughly halfway through moving to the negative impacts of palm oil. This gentle beginning draws the audience in, I suspect for some watching the shift in tone will have been a surprise – but this also keeps people watching. The switch to black and white with roaring machines destroying the forest is shocking and upsetting. The child-like language, storytelling style and sympathetic characters, including ‘Rang-Tan’, make the message impactful and easy to understand for non-experts.
I hope more sustainability campaigns use some of these techniques, and others, to create calls to action for our planet. #oneplanet #SDG17