Oil, Bricks, and Politics

Lego Shell Greenpeace

Greenpeace, probably the world’s best known global activism charity, have been on the campaign trail, and oddly it affects our favourite little plastic bricks.

The LEGO Group has had a 50 year partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, featuring the petroleum brand on its Town sets before the arrival of the fictional ‘Octan’ brand in 1992, and more recently selling unique LEGO sets in Shell petrol stations.

Shell are an oil exploration company, and thus they explore the furthest reaches of our planet in the search for black gold. Most recently this has involved exploration in the arctic, much to the annoyance of Greenpeace.

In response the charity started a rather clever and actually quite original campaign to pressure LEGO into dropping Shell as a partner. Despite LEGO stating Greenpeace should take up their issues with Shell directly, the company has now bowed to pressure and decided not to renew their partnership with Royal Dutch Shell. What this means for LEGO’s other partnerships (e.g Ferrari, which are themselves sponsored by Shell) is unclear, but it will likely result in the end of the exclusive Shell sets in the near future.

We’re not quite sure how the termination of this partnership protects the arctic, or that Greenpeace understand irony (LEGO is made from plastic, and plastic is made from oil), but it does show that LEGO is seen as beloved moral brand, and that this is perceived to be at odds with some of their partnership choices.

We, being a car blog and understanding both irony and global economics, disagree with Greenpeace on this particular issue, but props to them for raising awareness of the LEGO brand – it’s done The LEGO Group no harm at all.

You can read more about the Greenpeace campaign and the response from both The LEGO Group and Royal Dutch Shell here, and you can watch Greenpeace’s slightly depressing campaign video below.

YouTube Video:

7 thoughts on “Oil, Bricks, and Politics

  1. hoexlego

    I´m saddened if it is true that Lego has caved in because of Greenpeace pressure. I really-really don’t like these “green” militants. What will Lego do if somebody goes after them for hooking up with Maersk? Cave in too? Again?
    (Maersk Oil. Google it… You might even end up playing their “Quest for Oil” game. I wonder if it will take you too the arctic too…?)
    Greenpeace should have been shown the door from the begining. Now the action taken by TLC can lend credibility to Greenpeace, which I find highly unfortunate…
    (Just IMHO of course, as always. YOU are allowed to disagree! 😉

  2. dc

    I’m curious what TLCB’s view is here.

    On balance I side with Greenpeace here. I don’t think this particular fight is going to save the Arctic, of course – but Greenpeace surely realizes that too. Instead, it’s a very small part of a much larger campaign to educate and mobilize people to fight climate change, which is a severe and quite possibly existential threat to humanity. At the very least climate change is going to make (and indeed already is making) life considerably worse for much of humanity.

    1. thelegocarblogger

      Hello DC

      Thanks for stopping by.

      This particular blogger (the views of whom may not reflect TLCB as a whole) would advocate tackling consumption, rather than supply.

      Demonising oil companies – as Greenpeace choose to – is easy. However, it is either the height of hypocrisy or plain ignorance to say ‘Oil is bad’ on one hand, whilst the other one is typing on a plastic keyboard in response to watching a video filmed with a plastic camera, on a plastic computer screen, which is electrically powered by burning oil.

      We would like to see activists stopping their consumption of oil before protesting its production.

      TLCB Team(member)

  3. dc

    Thanks for replying! I’ll keep this short, since this topic is tangential at best to the purpose of the site. I agree about the hypocrisy, and I think curtailing consumption (ideally with a Pigouvian carbon tax, probably using tax-and-dividend scheme) is crucial. I differ when it comes to attacking “production” (actually, extraction) – doing so can be useful when it comes to public education, and Arctic drilling poses particular dangers beyond those of climate change since accidents are more likely in remote areas with severe weather, and the effects of those accidents will be much harder to clean up. Regardless, I do appreciate your thoughtful and civil response.

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