Green­peace UK: Rang-tan and the sto­ry of dirty palm oil

Exhibited by
Sonia Triki
Added
May 09, 2019
Medium of Communication
Television
Target Audience
Individuals
Type of Charity
Environmental
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
2018

SOFII’s view

This brilliant TV advert by Greenpeace could not be more timely as the destructive realities of human use of palm oil in everything from food to toiletries become clear. The story of Rang-tan played a huge part in raising that awareness in the UK, becoming a conversation piece and a rallying cry that was picked up by donors, campaigners and even businesses.

Summary / objectives

This animated film was created to raise public awareness of the huge damages created by the palm oil industry. People were encouraged to sign a petition to call out household brands (Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, L’Oreal, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever) to use more environmentally-friendly sourced palm oil and stop deforestation.

Special characteristics

The animated film was narrated by Oscar and Bafta winning actress Dame Emma Thompson.

Influence / impact

The film and the petition had a massive success, viewed by millions of individuals in the UK and abroad. It attracted the attention of supporters including celebrities (from One Direction’s Liam Payne to Stephen Fry) and commercial brands. 

Iceland UK offered to remove Greenpeace branding and use the Rang-tan film for their Christmas TV advert. ClearCast (the non-governmental organisation which pre-approves most British television advertising) refused to allow this on the ground that they were ‘concerned that it doesn’t comply with the political rules of the BCAP (British Committee of Advertising Practice) Code and that the creative submitted to us is linked to another organisation who have not yet been able to demonstrate compliance in this area’. 

The decision created even more engagement with the public who massively supported the campaign providing Greenpeace with even more press coverage and making everyone forget about John Lewis and any other brand’s Christmas adverts.

As of February 2019, the online petition had been signed by 1.2 million people in the UK alone. The supporter journey then took people to a fundraising page which given the success of the petition, the media attention and the celebrity involvement certainly translated into new campaigners and financial supporters. 

Results

The Greenpeace Rang-tan campaign took the country by storm. It became the Christmas campaign of 2018, taking over bigger commercial brands with bigger budgets and an established presence on television. 

By early December, the film reached more than 65 million views. The petition was signed by 1.2 million people in the UK: even if only one per cent converted to become a regular donor, it would still represent an estimated 12,000 new donors acquired without any other channels than social media and word of mouth. 

The Rang-tan campaign also benefited from massive press coverage, from specialised titles to more mainstream publications, and significant engagement on social media, with people of all generations sharing the video and (re)tweeting the petition. 

Moreover, Greenpeace managed to tap into social conversation and words such as ‘palm oil’ and ‘environment-friendly’ were discussed in conversations between people who may never have discussed or considered sustainability before. 

In terms of the organisation’s mission and engagement this campaign is an absolute success. It made large numbers of people in the UK care for or at least reflect on the impact of their choices and behaviours as consumers, how and where their products are sourced and whether or not it is fair to the environment. 

It also reshaped Greenpeace’s image in some ways, turning them from a strong and bold movement known for their radical activism into a softer and more accessible organisation. 

Merits

This is exactly what ‘brand engagement’ should look like. And it evidences that, with the right message and execution, even not for profit organisations can compete with and outshine commercial brands. Greenpeace took a chance on one fabulously executed film, where the celebrity ambassador only narrates and is never shown or referred to. 

This film and the supporter experience altogether created an inspiring experience and built an even bigger community around the messaging. But the best accomplishment of all is how this campaign broke into social conversation, making the cause matter so much that it became mainstream. This is, or should be, the purpose of all charities.

Greenpeace’s video introduced viewers to the lovable Rang-tan, whose home had been destroyed by humans.
The film marked a shift away from the more activist angle Greenpeace usually adopts.
The visuals are truly beautiful, and even scary in places.
Donors received a beautiful pack with a poster of the Rang-tan story continuing the ‘engagement’ that had started by email.