Finn on Purpose: Dishonesty ruined Iceland campaign

by ethan.wainwright@finncomms.com

18th February, 2019

Purpose led campaigns can go wrong quickly. We saw this in last month’s blog when Diesel’s “Haute Couture” campaign messaging was inconsistent.  Unfortunately, Iceland have experienced the same problem this year with its “Rang-Tang Story” campaign.

Last April the brand pledged to stop selling products that contained palm-oil (the world’s new plastic) by the end of 2018. The vegetable oil is found in everyday products like shampoo and is responsible for large scale deforestation and in turn global warming.

Image result for palm oil deforestation

So, when Iceland released its re-branded version of Greenpeace’s ‘rangtan’ ad on social channels last December as a call to action for people around the world to stop using palm oil products, the public response was overwhelmingly positive. The emotionally provoking nature of the ad really illuminates the effect that our ignorant purchasing habits have on the planet and clearly positions Iceland as a brand firmly against palm-oil.

Unfortunately, this meant that when the BBC revealed that Iceland was still selling 28 own brand products with palm oil, as well as 600 from other brands in 2019 people were understandably let down. This is a direct contradiction to the promise made to customers, diminishing the brand’s credibility as well as the authenticity of its campaign.

When you consider the fact that Iceland will undoubtedly have had an existing stock of palm-oil products before making its commitment, the brand’s actions become more understandable. Would it really make sense to throw them away even after the damage had already been done? Probably not, because then the damage to Earth would have been for nothing.

I believe people would have understood this. If Iceland had said that it was going to stop selling palm-oil products once all existing stock had been sold, rather than assuming people wouldn’t notice, the campaign could have remained in all its glory. It was Iceland’s lack of transparency and the brand’s inconsistent messaging which triggered its demise because it leads people to question its motivation, as we saw in the case of Diesel.

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