Advertising body Clearcast said the organisation hadn't banned the short film but that it couldn't clear it to run on TV as it is breaches the rules of the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice which stops companies from broadcasting political adverts.
Clearcast said it had been unable to clear the ad for on-air because it was "concerned" that it doesn't comply with the political rules of the United Kingdom code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP).
Public calls to reduce palm oil in consumer products have mounted over the last several years, as rainforest destruction in areas like Malaysia lead to major threats to the survival of orangutans.
In a festive campaign with Greenpeace, Iceland created an animated advert starring a girl and an orangutan that discussed how the animal's habitat was destroyed by deforestation in the pursuit of palm oil. It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window.
Palm oil production is estimated to have been responsible for eight per cent of global deforestation between 1990 and 2008, with tens of thousands of the now critically endangered orangutans being killed as a result.
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Under the 2003 Communications Act, an advert is deemed to contravene the bar on political advertising if it is "wholly or mainly of a political nature" or is "directed towards a political end". "They're burning it for palm oil so I thought I'd stay with you..."
Iceland Foods, who became the first major United Kingdom supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all of their foods earlier this year, will still be playing TV ads, but only 10-second clips that highlight palm oil-free products. "Clearcast and the broadcasters have to date been unable to clear this Iceland ad because we are concerned that it doesn't comply with the political rules of the BCAP code", it said.
"We think this is a huge story that needs to be told".
"It's been banned, so you're not going to see it on TV", he told the BBC. "We are proud to be encouraging consumers to make more sustainable choices, even without the support of TV advertising, ahead of the Christmas shopping season".
Iceland said it had spent around £500,000 on the campaign, booking "primetime" TV slots through its media agency 7stars.