Greenpeace has launched a campaign urging LEGO to #BlockShell and end its partnership with the oil company, which the NGO contends has been using LEGO’s brand to clean up its image as an Arctic oil driller.
Greenpeace has launched a campaign urging LEGO to #BlockShell and end its partnership with the oil company, which the watchdog group contends has been using LEGO’s brand to clean up its image as an Arctic oil driller. Greenpeace has accused LEGO of putting sales "above its commitment to the environment and children’s futures," and is calling on the company to stop releasing products that feature Shell’s logo.
Greenpeace's campaign kicked off on Tuesday with protests — complete with adorable protest displays created with LEGO characters — at Legoland theme park in London, following the release of a Greenpeace investigation — called Lego Is Keeping Bad Company — into the partnership between the two companies. The mini protesters hung tiny banners on various landmarks throughout the park saying “Save the Arctic” and “Block Shell.”
LEGO began partnering with Shell and Ferrari in 2012 in an effort to promote Shell’s V-Power fuel, which costs more than its other fuels — the idea was to appeal to consumers by appealing to their kids with a collection of Shell-branded LEGO Ferraris (more than 16 million were distributed to gas stations in 26 countries, making Shell a major contributor to LEGO’s global sales, according to the Greenpeace report) and an online video game. The campaign apparently worked, boosting Shell’s global fuel sales by 7.5 percent. Greenpeace says LEGO has confirmed that another co-promotion between the two companies is planned for later this year.
Shell’s Arctic program has faced fierce criticism from environmental NGOs and regulators since 2012, and Greenpeace asserts it is putting the region's unique marine environment at risk and exacerbating global warming.
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“Climate change is an enormous threat facing all children around the world, but Shell is trying to hijack the magic of LEGO to hide its role. It is using LEGO to clean up its image and divert attention from its dangerous plans to raid the pristine Arctic for oil. And it’s exploiting kids’ love of their toys to build life-long loyalty it doesn’t deserve. It’s time for LEGO to finally pull the plug on this deal. We’re calling on LEGO to stand up for Arctic protection, and for children, by ditching Shell for good.”
Susan Linn, psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, said: “Children form strong emotional attachments in childhood that last a lifetime, and companies know that all too well. Adverts aimed at children are bad enough, but branding their favorite playthings gain companies like Shell many hours and even days of their dedicated time, energy and love. We need to protect children’s imaginative play from branding for many reasons, including the important need for them to explore their own ideas and develop their own world view.”
As of Wednesday evening, over 35,000 supporters had already signed an online petition for Lego to give Shell the boot.
Despite its dealings with Shell, LEGO itself has made impressive commitments to increasing its own sustainability: In December, the toy maker announced a partnership with WWF aimed at improving its performance on a range of environmental priorities — including greater focus on collaboration with suppliers to reduce total carbon emissions — and committed to becoming net positive through the use of renewables by 2016. And in February, the company announced that it intends to find a sustainable alternative to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), the plastic resin used in its signature bricks, by 2030.