1 Jul 2014

Lego urged to ditch Shell over environmental record

Lego is “letting kids down” because of its partnership with Shell, say Greenpeace, which is launching a global campaign to get the children’s toy manufacturer to ditch the fuel giant.

Protest at Legoland

Lego and Shell have had a commercial relationship since the 1970s, but Greenpeace say that Shell’s desire to drill for fuels in the Arctic means its brand is unsuitable for children’s toys.

Shell has spent around $4.5bn exploring for oil off the coast of Alaska since 2005 and has faced strong opposition from environmental groups. In January, Shell suspended its Arctic exploration programme after a 71 per cent fall in profits, but Greenpeace says Shell will resume drilling when their finances improve.

A new partnership between the two companies was launched in 2012 and lasts until 2014. The deal has seen the distribution of 16 million Ferrari-branded Lego toy cars at Shell petrol stations around the world. The PR company behind the deal, Iris Worldwide, estimates the relationship to be worth $116m.

Greenpeace says it will mobilise 5 million “Arctic defenders” in countries around the world to “break the relationship” between Lego and Shell. On Tuesday, Greenpeace activists targeted Legoland Windsor, distributing Lego figures around the theme park to act out miniature protests.

Protest at Legoland

Elena Polisano, a Greenpeace activist who was protesting at Legoland this morning, told Channel 4 News: “Shell is cleaning up its image by using Lego.

“Everyone loves Lego, but by letting Shell put their logo on its toys it’s helping Shell avoid scrutiny and seem like a family-friendly company. It’s about time Lego stood up for Arctic protection and future generations.”

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of Lego, said the company had no intention of ending its agreement with Shell. He added: “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.

“We are saddened when the Lego brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organisations. We expect that Shell lives up to their responsibilities wherever they operate and take appropriate action to any potential claims should this not be the case.”

A Shell spokesperson told Channel 4 News: “In 2012, Shell launched the Ferrari Model Lego Collection promotion in collaboration with the Lego Group and Ferrari. The promotion has run to the great satisfaction of our customers, and continues to roll out to more countries.”