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LEGO Rebuffs Greenpeace Campaign Video to Ditch Shell
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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If you’re a controversial brand (and industry), what might you do to gain a little goodwill? Team up with a much-beloved brand and bask in the associated benevolence. Well, Greenpeace is having none of it, releasing a strongly emotive video attacking the Shell/LEGO partnership to sell Shell-branded LEGO cars at gas stations in 26 countries, with more to roll out soon. Will LEGO stand up against the strident pressure of this grassroots advocacy group? So far, the answer is yes.

Greenpeace published an animated campaign video on July 8 showing LEGO toys being overwhelmed by a flood of oozing black oil, with The LEGO Movie’s “Everything is Awesome” music providing the maudlin sentiment. The video shows LEGO polar bears, huskies, and children being overrun by waves of muck, with the dire warning that “Shell is polluting our children’s imaginations.”

Greenpeace’s call to action was a petition asking LEGO to end the partnership.

LEGO has so far rebuffed the group’s pleas.

LEGO CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp released an online statement saying "A co-promotion contract like the one with Shell is one of many ways we are able to bring Lego bricks into the hands of more children.

"The Greenpeace campaign focuses on how Shell operates in a specific part of the world. We firmly believe that this matter must be handled between Shell and Greenpeace,” Knudstorp wrote.

He appears to chastise Greenpeace for perhaps what he thought was a cheap shot at the legendary toy company:

“We are saddened when the LEGO brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organisations.”

LEGO called attention to its corporate responsibility and sustainability policies, which includes its Planet Promise to "leave a positive impact in the world — be it in respect to individuals or the wider community. Above all is our will to engage in a respectful dialogue with our stakeholders, internally as well as externally.”

Regardless of how many signatures Greenpeace is able to garner to put pressure on the partnership, it may have miscalculated in striking out at one of the world’s most beloved brands.

In the PR world, this is precisely why a controversial brand such as Shell might well have struck gold when it forged this unique partnership with LEGO.

Chided LEGO in its official Twitter account: “It is important to us that any partnerships we have support our vision, promise & has LEGO play at the core.”

Another LEGO tweet said: “…we fully expect Shell to live up to their responsibility & take appropriate action to any potential claims.”

Time will only tell if The LEGO Group will continue to stand firm against Greenpeace and in favor of its new commercial partner.

NB: The point appears moot at the moment, since as of July 10 the Greenpeace video appears to have been blocked from YouTube by Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns the rights to The Lego Movie, perhaps objecting to Greenpeace pulling them into the fray as well.

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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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