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Iceland’s banned Christmas advert: The age of ethical brands

Screen Shot 2018 11 16 At 00

In a stroke of marketing genius, budget supermarket Iceland released its Christmas campaign online following reports it was banned from television due to breaching political advertising rules. Iceland made a deal with Greenpeace to use its animated short film featuring a baby orangutan wreaking havoc in a little girl’s bedroom. The story highlights the destruction of rainforests at the hands of palm oil producers, which has led to orangutans now being classified as critically endangered. 

During a time when so-called festive ad wars are taking place between retailers, Iceland chose to use the opportunity to highlight the removal of palm oil from all of its own-brand foods. It’s a ballsy move from Iceland during a time when the aim of the December advert game is to drive footfall and Christmas profits. However, Iceland is far from the only brand that’s listening to consumers and prioritising sustainability in its marketing efforts.


In May this year, it was reported that the supermarket giant would be banning all non-recyclable plastic, which includes plastic film, polystyrene and water-soluble bio plastic, by 2019. Tesco’s chief product officer Jason Tarry stated: “We will work with our suppliers to redesign and reduce all packaging materials and, after consultation with our leading suppliers earlier this year, we will remove all packaging that is hard to recycle from our business by 2019.” Along with Sainsbury’s and Aldi, Tesco signed the UK plastics pact, pledging to eradicate single-use plastics from packaging, with any remaining plastic having to be completely recyclable by 2025.


The Danish beer company is on a public mission to cut its carbon footprint, water waste, irresponsible drinking and workplace accidents by 2030. In an interview with Ethical Corporation, Carlsberg’s sustainability chief Simon Hoffmeyer Boas discussed a number of initiative’s including plans to continue reducing the environmental impact of aluminium, glass and cardboard. The brand’s innovations include the green fibre bottle, which will be the world’s first bio-based beer bottle, made from sustainably sourced wood-fibre that is 100% biodegradable. In more recent news, Carlsberg reported it would be replacing the traditional plastic rings that hold together cans with glue dots to save on plastic.


Levi has introduced its Wellthread® Collection made from 100% recyclable cotton, as part of a major project that seeks to promote conservation and incorporate sustainability into every stage of the development process. The collection is the first ever to feature Levi’s Water<Less™ fabric, which saves more than 65% of the water in the dye process compared to conventional dyeing. The result is a product that’s durable and more responsible for both the people who wear them and the planet.

Not only do companies need to operate more responsibly for the sake of the planet, but it’s been found that 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for a sustainable product, meaning (somewhat cynically) that sustainability is big business. There’s little doubt that the race is on for brands to move with the times and source products and materials in the most sustainable manner, and, vitally, make sure they communicate this to their audience.