Environmental charity Greenpeace has launched a scathing new ad calling for Lego to end its partnership with Shell, using the brand’s toys to demonstrate the potentially devastating consequences of an oil spill.
Lego sold Shell branded toys from the 1960s until the 1990s and in 2012, signed a two-year deal to sell Shell Lego toys at petrol stations in 26 countries.
Greenpeace says Shell’s previous attempts to drill for oil in the arctic make it an unsuitable sponsor for children’s toys, and has launched a campaign urging Lego to end its affiliation with the company. Last week, it launched protests at the Legoland theme park in Windsor, where activists used Lego figures to stage mini protests.
Directed by Unit 9’s Martin Stirling, the two-minute spot from agency Don’t Panic begins with an idyllic arctic scene, complete with huskies, polar bears and tiny ice hockey players, set to a slowed-down version of the Lego Movie theme tune Everything Is Awesome.
Things quickly take a darker turn, however, as the sea and coast are flooded with thick black oil, engulfing puppies, children, teddy bears and even Santa Claus. The ad ends with the message: “Shell is polluting our kids imaginations. Tell Lego to end its partnership with Shell,” and a link to the campaign’s website, legoblockshell.org.
Greenpeace has adopted increasingly creative tactics to get its message across in recent years – in 2012, it launched an anime campaign urging fashion companies to reduce toxic pollution and last year, marched a three tonne mechanical polar bear through central London to highlight its Save the Arctic campaign.
The latest ad is an impressive production and is beautifully shot, from close ups of drowning figures with terrified expressions, to scenes of a pinstripe suited mini villain smoking a cigar by a Shell-branded lorry.
Targeting the world’s most popular toy brand is a bold move but it’s a clever campaign, and one that’s bound to place pressure on Lego to end the partnership, which Greenpeace claims was valued at $116 million by Shell’s PR company.
Brand advertising in games is a lucrative industry, but as an educational toy aimed at young children, Lego has a greater responsibility than most to pick suitable sponsors. Greenpeace’s ad is unlikely to impact Lego’s global popularity, but it does raise some serious questions over whether such a partnership is appropriate, particularly when the brand recently announced plans to substantially reduce its CO2 emissions.
Director: Martin Stirling
Producer: Pietro Matteucci
DOP: Matthew Day
Art director: Andy Gent
Everything is Awesome cover by Alex Baranowski and Sophie Blackburn