It's irresponsible for Clearcast to block Iceland's educational advert, says Amnesty's Leila Mountford

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It's irresponsible for Clearcast to block Iceland's educational advert, says Amnesty's Leila Mountford

In my view it's more about education than politics

Here’s what I think about the ban of the Iceland campaign: It is not only ridiculous, but very irresponsible to block an advert that educates people on their purchasing decisions.  

If we are allowed to sell people products, then we should be allowed to show the impact they have on the communities and wildlife they interfere with.  

This is not a political issue, it is an educational one. 

Not every person reads the Guardian and is aware of all the implications of buying palm oil products; that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to know. It is our job as communicators working in the third sector (as well as those working for responsible brands) to give people this information in a way that is meaningful to them, at a time when they are receptive.  

Yes, there is a call to action to sign a petition (which is a form of showing solidarity and not something that will necessarily change a law but rather offer support for considering it) for those who feel motivated, but why should there not be? A call to ‘buy in bulk to save’ is also a call to action, yet that is acceptable even if it means endangering a species.

We alert people to the side-effects that cigarettes have on our bodies by displaying messaging and imagery on boxes these days; we highlight high saturated fat content on food packaging. We are all buying funky water flasks and turning our noses up to straws in pubs because of Blue Planet popularising the fact that plastic is bad for the planet and sea life, but god forbid we educate people on the palm oil issue in the sneaky disguise of a Christmas advert.  

Shall we not ask people to purchase clothing from ethical traders who do not use sweatshops but rather let them live in a false reality where £5 fashion items magically sow themselves? No. That is not what a healthy and responsible society does. This is lazy and weak from Clearcast.  

The world is in a funny place at the moment, and I am scared for the future. In the UK, we should be able to debate these issues freely. My colleagues in Greenpeace India and Amnesty International India are currently facing a political attack from the government for challenging the status quo on human rights and environmental issues. They have frozen their bank accounts, raided their offices and are taking them to court. We are putting up a good fight, but my colleagues may not have a salary or job after Christmas. You’ve got to ask, why are ‘strong men’ always so afraid of the truth?

I support the Iceland ad and I support the great work colleagues around the world are doing in truly tough circumstances.  

Not every Christmas ad needs to tell a happy tale, as not every Christmas is a happy one for some.

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Leila Mountford

Leila Mountford

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