Lego cuts ties with Shell after Greenpeace campaign

Greenpeace placed  mini activist Lego figures at a Shell gas station in Legoland in Billund, Denmark with banners reading "Save the Arctic Stop Shell". The action was part of a global campaign to pressure Lego to sever its business partnership with Shell. (Uffe Weng / Greenpeace)
Greenpeace placed mini activist Lego figures at a Shell gas station in Legoland in Billund, Denmark with banners reading “Save the Arctic Stop Shell”. The action was part of a global campaign to pressure Lego to sever its business partnership with Shell. (Uffe Weng / Greenpeace)
Danish toy-maker Lego announced on Wednesday it was cutting ties with Royal Dutch Shell after an extended campaign by the environmental group Greenpeace.

“The Greenpeace campaign uses the Lego brand to target Shell,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group, in a news release.  “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 Greenpeace’s dispute with Shell.”

While Lego will honour its remaining contract with Shell, it will not renew the partnership once the contract has ended.

“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 that our attention is not diverted from our commitment to delivering creative and inspiring play experiences,” Knudstorp said.

‘A major blow to Shell’

Greenpeace has long campaigned against Shell’s drilling activities in the Arctic, concerned with how a potential oil spill could impact nature and wildlife in the area.

Lego’s partnership with Shell  involved Shell-branded toy kits along with promotional items at gas stations.

Over the last three months, a campaign against the partnership was launched by Greenpeace. A video posted on YouTube by Greenpeace, depicting an Arctic landscape built out of Lego being drowned by an oil spill, garnered almost 6 million views.

On Thursday, Greenpeace praised Lego’s decision.

“This is a major blow to Shell,” said Alex Speers-Roesch, an Arctic campaign spokesperson at Greenpeace Canada,  in a news release.  “It desperately needs partners like LEGO to help give it the appearance of respectability and repair the major brand damage it suffered after its last Arctic misadventure.

“Lego’s withdrawal from a 50 year relationship with Shell clearly shows that strategy will not work,” he said.

Shell  has onshore and offshore experience in several northern regions including Canada, Alaska, Norway and Russia.

Drilling activities in Arctic Alaska have been troubled in recent years: 2012 was marked by mechanical issues and weather challenges including the grounding of the Kulluk drill ship. Shell’s oil exploration  in Alaska’s Arctic was called off for the 2014 drilling season.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada ponders exceptions to relief well rule for Arctic oil drilling, Alaska Dispatch

Norway: No Norwegian services to Russian Arctic offshore oil, Barents Observer

Russia: Disappointing result in Rosneft’s first Norwegian well, Barents Observer

United States: Shell’s new Chukchi plan: Two rigs drilling wells at the same time, Alaska Dispatch

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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