Our response to the Iceland ad petition

13th November 2018

The Iceland/Greenpeace ad has struck a chord with many people in the UK and beyond as is clear from the number of signatures on this petition. It carries an important message and communicates it in a compelling way.

 

We recognise that over 700,000 people have signed this petition and that, like Mark Topps, they believe that this is an important issue and would like the ad to be seen on television. However, the large number of signatures on the petition unfortunately does not change the legal position. Under broadcasting law, Clearcast and the broadcasters need to establish Greenpeace is not a political advertiser before we clear the ad. As you would expect, we don’t make arbitrary decisions on that and rely on advertisers to provide the information we need to help us make the decision. We haven’t received this from Greenpeace, and until we do, and are sure that Greenpeace does not count as a political organisation, we will be unable to clear the ad.

 

We have cleared a number of ads for environmental organisations. For example, most recently the World Wide Fund For Nature’s “For your world” campaign but also Friends of the Earth, RSPCA and RSPB. All of these organisations have gone through the same process and demonstrated to us that they are not political advertisers under the definitions of the code.

 

 

Clearcast’s role

In the UK broadcast advertising has by law to be precleared before it is broadcast. Clearcast works on behalf of the broadcasters to ensure that ads meet the BCAP rules. The rules about political advertising are set by parliament in the Communications Act and reflected in the BCAP rules.

 

Iceland Ad

There are important points in the petition that are factually incorrect:

 

– Clearcast have not banned the ad for being too political. We have no problem with the content or message in the ad.

– Clearcast is not involved in making the BCAP rules, only ensuring that they are met (which is a legal obligation of broadcasters).

 

The problem arises because the film was made by Greenpeace and the rules prevent adverts “inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature” from being broadcast on television.

 

Greenpeace is a charity and environmental organisation but is also a lobbying and campaigning group with activities that are political as defined by the BCAP Code. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they count as a political advertiser under the rules (as that will depend on what proportion of their overall activities the political ones make up), but we need to satisfy ourselves that they are not before we can clear the ad for TV. We can’t take a view on this until we’ve received information from Greenpeace, and we have not had that to date.

 

Is it an Iceland or a Greenpeace ad?

We’ve had some queries about why there is a problem at all with the Greenpeace link as the Iceland ad does not include Greenpeace branding. The problem is that, having been running on their social media channels, and even more so following recent publicity, the content is closely associated with Greenpeace and therefore makes an association with them whether or not they are explicitly mentioned in the Iceland ad itself.