We’re all used to Christmas ads trying to pull our heart strings. Whether it’s soldiers calling a ceasefire for a game of footy or woodland animals trampolining at night, Christmas has become synonymous with big budget ads. So when Iceland’s 2018 effort got banned, it was sure to cause a stir. What could possibly get a Christmas advert banned? A mince pie hating reindeer? A foul mouthed Santa? In the case of Iceland’s advert, it may simply be loving the planet too much.

Setting the scene

The ad powerfully highlights how the palm oil industry is destroying wildlife and leaving a massive carbon footprint. Surely it’s a great thing to raise awareness about, right? Particularly as we all recently learnt there’s 12 years left to save the world from climate change. Despite this, Clearcast deemed it too political. Strange. I can understand arguments that it oversimplifies the issue or that Iceland’s current food and plastic waste is equally damaging. But the last thing I’d call it is too political. Watch below and judge for yourself.

Wrapped up in politics

So what does ‘too political’ mean? Perhaps it has more to do with big companies losing money. Perhaps political means anything too disruptive that goes against the status quo. But I think as Christians striving to see a more just world, that is exactly what we’re called to do. I love how the early Church was described in Acts as those ‘who have turned the world upside down.’ If we ask God to bring His kingdom here, we have to prepare for that to shake things up.

Poverty exists in the world because of people. It isn’t just a nebulous force roaming around that we can blame. It’s the result of man-made systems built to benefit a minority, regardless of the damage it may cause to the majority. It’s our job to dismantle these systems by raising awareness, praying and taking action. If we’re not a part of the solution, we may be a part of the problem.

Disrupting the narrative

We can’t be scared to rock the boat when it comes to calling out injustice. Whether it’s in our schools, universities, workplaces or amongst our families and friends, we must stand up for what we believe. I sometimes find myself worrying that if I raise an issue, I’ll be met by apathy or even hostility. But if even one person is inspired to start their justice journey then it’s worth it. Despite Iceland’s ad being banned, I’ve already seen so many people rallying behind the cause. We should learn from this and be inspired to pursue justice without fear of what others think.

I’m not saying we have to get banned from uni or work to make a difference, but being bold enough to go against the grain is important. It’s something I was reminded of when listening to the last Together Podcast episode. During the podcast I heard about a group of students at Queen’s University Belfast who campaigned for the uni to become Fairtrade. Their willingness to disrupt the status quo eventually led to the entire city becoming Fairtrade! No matter what life stage we’re at, we have the ability to change our corner of the world.

So if the Iceland Christmas advert was ‘too political’, that’s okay by me. I’d rather boldly work towards justice, than helplessly accept the current state of the world.

If you want to join others calling for the ban to be overturned, you can sign the petition.