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article imageLego dumps Shell after Greenpeace protests Arctic drilling

By Karla Lant     Oct 9, 2014 in Environment
Lego will not renew its multi-million dollar marketing contract with Shell based on ongoing pressure from Greenpeace and its viral video, "Everything is not awesome," concerning Shell's planned Arctic drilling campaign.
Lego dumps Shell after Greenpeace protests Arctic drilling
Lego has announced that it will not renew its current marketing contract with Shell based on ongoing pressure from Greenpeace concerning Shell's planned Arctic drilling campaign. This move will end a partnership between Lego and Shell that dates back to the 1960s.
The viral video campaign from Greenpeace protesting the oil behemoth’s plans to drill in the Arctic is the environmental group's most successful video ever. The YouTube video called “Everything is not awesome” focuses on both Lego and Shell by showing an animated version of the Arctic, built from more than 250 pounds of Lego bricks, covered in oil. The video has garnered almost 6 million views to date.
Lego initially resisted Greenpeace's position, stating that it should be dealing directly with Shell and leaving the toymaker out of it. However, on Wednesday the company's CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, announced that although Lego would honor its current 2011 deal with Shell, it would not renew its contract with the energy company:
“We want to clarify that as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends.”
Right now Lego sets are sold at Shell stations in 26 countries, and this arrangement is worth more than US$109 million. The stated goal of the partnership is to inspire children and have a positive impact on the world.
Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven remarked: “It did touch a bit of a raw nerve about the partnership between the two companies that people thought was completely inappropriate – for a toy company like Lego to partner with an oil corporation – which is a sign of changes that are happening [in public attitudes towards fossil fuel companies].”
The Guardian reported that Sauven hopes that the action taken by Lego will prompt other organizations that partner with Shell, such as London’s Science Museum, to rethink those collaborations. Shell sponsors a climate change exhibition at the Science Museum.
Sauven told the Guardian, “Clearly Shell is trying to piggy back on the credibility of other brands. It’s a good PR strategy if you can get away with it."
Knudstorp, CEO of the Lego Group, maintained most of his original positions in a statement on Wednesday: “As we have stated before, we firmly believe Greenpeace ought to have a direct conversation with Shell. The Lego brand, and everyone who enjoys creative play, should never have become part of this dispute between Greenpeace and Shell.. . .We do not agree with the tactics used by Greenpeace that may have created misunderstandings among our stakeholders about the way we operate, and we want to ensure our attention is not diverted from our commitment to delivering creative and inspiring play experiences.”
In other words, while Lego does not really agree with the tactics taken by Greenpeace, and possibly doesn't agree with the position against the drilling itself, the publicity and consumer pressure worked.
A Shell spokesman commented: “We respect the right of individuals and organizations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about meeting the world’s growing energy needs.”
In a blog post Greenpeace cites “the top five moments of [the anti-Shell] campaign” to include a sad polar bear parodying a Game of Thrones character, a Lego-building protest by children in front of Shell's London HQ, a number of different photographed Lego protests done across the world by Lego people in front of landmarks, Lego climbers protesting at a Denmark Shell gas station, and, of course, the video. Each of these are pictured here in the Greenpeace blog.
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