Iceland's 'Rang-Tang' Just Won Christmas Without A Penny Of Airtime

There is only one topic of conversation in adland this morning -- and, for once, it's not Brexit. Clearcast's decision not to allow Iceland to run an ad based on the 'Rang-Tang' animation originally commissioned and run by Greenpeace, has left many scratching their heads in disbelief.

Talk of a ban exploded on social media from Friday and across the weekend with everyone's social feeds inundated with appeals to watch the film Comcast would not allow Iceland to run.

The result is that Campaign reports it has already been watched 30m times. As such, it is breaking records for how man times a banned ad has been viewed online.

At this rate, it could end up being watched more than any John Lewis -- which, tradition dictates, usually wins the battle of the Christmas ads on both television and social.

So what's the problem? Well, the "Rang-Tang" is a moving film about an Orangutan causing havoc in a little girl's bedroom that is asked to leave. Before he does, he points out that his native lands have been ravaged. It is a Greenpeace animation which Iceland has repurposed with its vow to keep on removing palm oil from its own-brand products until it can prove its production causes no harm to Orangutans.

Clearcast explains that the issue is, it contravenes the law on broadcasting. In a statement by by its managing director, the non-governmental body makes clear that it does not set the law but is duty bound to enforce it. For what is still essentially a Greenpeace film to be cleared for broadcast, it requires the environmental charity to prove that it is not a political advertiser.

One can see there is a legal issue, and Clearcast feels its hands are tied. But to be honest, I don't think many people see the harm in a Greenpeace film being re-appropriated with a strong brand commitment by a leading supermarket about palm oil in its products. Is Greenpeace political? I'm not sure. It's an activist organisation, for sure, but does make it political?

Legal issues aside, let's return to the main issue on the table. Iceland is shaping up to win the battle of the Christmas television ads, and it hasn't paid a penny yet in buying expensive ad slots between Coronation Street and The X Factor. 

A quick look at YouTube would suggest the original animation Greenpeace posted three months ago has been viewed 250,000 times. According to the aforementioned 30m views attributed to the Iceland ad, getting banned has resulted in more than one hundred times the interest from the general public. 

If true, that would put it just above the #ManOnTheMoon and #BusterTheBoxer John Lewis ad, which have 29m and 27m views on YouTube. It is hard to judge because the Iceland "Rang-Tang" ad on YouTube has more than 3m views, but the 30m figure is attributed to aggregated viewing and so a lot of that would have come from viewing on social platforms.

Just about anyone on social media over the weekend can probably testify that this was how they saw the furore over the banned ad and they clicked to play on their social channel of choice, rather than searching for it on YouTube. 

It will remind many of being told they couldn't listen to the Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" or Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax." Both were smash hits, Relax spent 5 weeks at number one and The Sex Pistols received their first and only second position in the charts.

This has been a social phenomenon over the weekend. It could lead to the most unlikely circumstances in which a brand has "won" Christmas. Not a penny spent on airtime but 30m outraged Brits streaming the advert to see what all the fuss is about.

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