A tear-jerking advertisement was set to be the centerpiece of a U.K. supermarket's Christmas promotions, but the company says the ad has been "banned" from television for its connection to a political issue.
Iceland Foods released the "Banned TV Christmas Advert" on YouTube Thursday, and it was quickly viewed more than a million times.
The company hoped to air "Rang-tan" – an ad originally published by environmental advocacy group Greenpeace – to tout the supermarket's commitment to remove palm oil from its product line at Christmas.
The oil, which is extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree, has been panned by critics for its impact on deforestation.
Citing Greenpeace's involvement, an organization tasked with clearing advertisements did not approve the spot. That effectively bars the Emma Thomson-narrated ad from appearing on UK television, the Guardian reports.
The cartoon ad begins as a whimsical children's nursery rhyme about a naughty orangutan wrecking havoc in a young girl's bedroom. Frustrated with the misbehaving animal, the child banishes it:
Oh rang-tan in my bedroom
Just before you go
Why were you in my bedroom?
I really want to know
The ad soon transitions to a bleak depiction of the effects of deforestation on the orangutan's habitat.
There are humans in my forest
And I don't know what to do
They're burning it for palm oil
So I thought I'd stay with you
Clearcast, the organization that blocked the ad, said it could not verify that the advertisement complied with a U.K. Code of Broadcast Advertising regulation disallowing ads submitted by or for political organizations.
Iceland made headlines in August when it announced plans to cut the use of palm oil in its own brand label foods by the end of 2018.
Growing global demand for the versatile oil, which can be used in food and cosmetics, has led to environmental concerns.
"Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying 'no to palm oil',” Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said in a statement. “We don't believe there is such a thing as 'sustainable' palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy."
Iceland issued a press release Friday saying their ad was "banned" by "advertising regulators."
In a response, Clearcast said it "is not a regulator and we do not ban ads." The organization said it has a contract with four major U.K. broadcasters to assess whether proposed advertisements comply with the rules of the U.K. Code of Broadcast Advertising.
Contributing: David Carrig, USA TODAY