A powerful (joint) force for good
With the task simple - make the UK aware that palm oil is destructive to tropical rainforest environments - we had to get a couple of basic building blocks in place. Make sure people know what palm oil is, and make sure they know how it is produced. All whilst getting them emotionally invested in the subject.
To start with we made the issue relatable. We created a character, representative of all rainforest wildlife. Rang-tan is our lovable guide to the effect palm oil cultivation is having on rainforests. We told her story through a children’s rhyme, both in a 90-second animation, narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Dame Emma Thompson, and in a printed children’s story book.
So far, so good. The launch of the Rang-tan film for Greenpeace generated a good degree of interest in the topic, and an easily shareable asset also helped to energise Greenpeace’s broad base of supporters and ambassadors. But with a challenge this extensive, this was just the first step of the journey.
With a blend of different communications disciplines at our disposal, and a range of external influencing factors, we found that making one big plan at the beginning of our journey wasn’t appropriate. Instead we took the approach of making many incremental decisions along the way, taking up opportunities that emerged off the back of a beautiful story with an amazing cause at its heart.
This led to a world first for Rang-tan: an advert recycled from one brand to another. The film first used by Greenpeace in August was then deployed for Iceland supermarket in November with a different message, highlighting that Iceland’s own-brand products were palm oil free. Having spent months attempting to get the Iceland version of the advert cleared for broadcast use, ending with it falling foul of Clearcast, we took the unusual decision to be transparent about the film failing to secure approval for UK broadcast. Iceland was proactive with that information, after all, we had nothing to hide.
The Iceland Rang-tan film has been viewed over 70m times and in the week of launch, Rang-tan occupied 88% of all online conversations about the hotly debated topic of Christmas advertising, all this with a miniscule media budget. The film is also on-track to be the most viewed, shared and commented-on Christmas ad of all time. Rang-tan’s plight, the destruction caused by palm oil and what consumers can do to make a difference were the subjects of thousands of news articles over the course of two weeks. A story in The Guardian was read over 1m times and even a trade publication had over 500k views on the topic.
Rang-tan appeared on every news channel and morning TV programme and has very much driven an almost 10,000% increase in those seeking information online about palm oil. Iceland is also doing a roaring trade in their palm oil-free Luxury Mince Pies, up 11% YOY, and Iceland’s ad was best-received with consumers, scoring it top on 10 of the 12 factors, and most likely to influence consumer purchasing according to Kantar Millward Brown’s annual consumer research into the effectiveness of Christmas advertising campaigns. Awareness in the UK about palm oil, its production and negative environmental consequences, is at an all-time high.