Iceland unleash animatronic orangutan on streets of London following advert ban

Animatronic Orangutan

The animatronic orangutan appears on London's Millennium Bridge. Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A life-sized animatronic orangutan has been spotted around London today following Iceland's palm oil advert ban.

The supermarket chain orchestrated the stunt to raise awareness of the effects of deforestation, with the ape appearing up a Christmas tree in central London and on the capital's iconic Millennium Bridge.


The ape's appearance was a nod to the message portrayed in Iceland's banned Christmas TV advert, which shows an orangutan appearing in a girl’s bedroom after losing its home due to the harvesting of palm oil.

The animatronic is controlled both remotely and via a specialist puppeteer who spent years studying the movement of orangutans, and will be touring Iceland stores throughout November as part of its Christmas campaign.

The orangutan tours London. Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep

The retailer is currently promoting its choice to make 100 per cent of its own-brand food palm-oil free by the end of 2018.

Iceland's managing director, Richard Walker, said the "distressed orangutan" was a "stark and potent symbol" of deforestation.

"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," he said.

The orangutan scales a Christmas tree in central London. Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep​​​​​​​

Iceland's Christmas advert was banned due to the involvement of campaign group Greenpeace in the production of the animated film.

Managing director of Clearcast, the group that blocked the advert from appearing on television, told talkRADIO: "The ad falls foul of rules about ads being broadcast on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature, and it was Greenpeace that made the ad."

He added that claims it was banned for being too "political" were not true, adding Clearcast did not think it was political "at all".