Iceland has responded to pleas to overturn the ban on its Christmas advert with an initiative that sees a displaced orangutan searching for a home in London.
A series of images depict a realistic animatronic replica of the endangered animal clinging to a Christmas tree at Coin Street and walking alongside a high street shopper.
The initiative follows the news that more than 680,000 people have signed a petition to retract a ban on the supermarket’s short animated ad, which tells the story of a girl who is perturbed by arrival of an orangutan in her bedroom.
Voiced by Emma Thompson and made in collaboration with Greenpeace, the ad was intended to highlight the environmental dangers of palm oil, an ingredient that is common in supermarket products.
In the ad, the sombre orangutan reveals that his home is being destroyed by palm oil growers who are ripping up trees in the rainforest.
“There’s a human in my forest and I don’t know what to do. He took away my mother and I’m scared he’ll take me too,” the great ape character says as he highlights the plight of orangutans in their habitat.
It’s estimated that 6,000 orangutans are wiped out each year as a result of deforestation, with 80 per cent of their natural habitat disappearing in the last 20 years.
The advert was banned from being shown on TV for being “too political”, but a clip shared online has since gone viral, amassing more than 12 million views.
It was intended to promote the supermarket’s Christmas range, which has been made entirely without palm oil.
James Corden, Anna Field and Paloma Faith are among celebrities to have voiced support for the ad being shown in spite of the ban.
The images of the orangutan released by Iceland show the animal in various London spots, from perching outside the Houses of Parliament to emerging from a tube station.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker said: “Our stranded, distressed orangutan is a stark and potent symbol of the effects of deforestation.
“We always try to give people a real choice about what they buy and this was a key driver of our decision to allow Iceland customers to join us in saying ‘no to palm oil’. 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.
"I am immensely proud of the work our food development team has carried out to create this new Christmas range without palm oil – a celebration of our commitment to end its use before the year closes.”
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