Greenpeace uses ‘brand jacking’ to end Lego’s partnership with Shell

Global Business

The environmental group Greenpeace is warning businesses that work with the oil company Shell that they are at risk of commercial embarrassment. Greenpeace has recently used a marketing technique known as “brand jacking” to force toy maker Lego to end a 50-year old relationship with Shell. CCTV America’s Malcolm Brabant reports.

Greenpeace used Lego building bricks to construct a model of the Arctic where Shell has ambitions to extract oil from beneath the ice. They created a “brand jacking” video, depicting a nightmare oil spill that attracted more than six million views. It was enough to convince Lego to end its relationship with the energy giant.

“First and foremost we have achieved that Lego is no longer giving Shell the stamp of approval, that our kids will no longer be playing with toys with the Shell logo on it. And that in itself, I think, is very important,” said Jon Burgwald, Greenpeace Arctic campaigner. “Another thing is that other corporations will now think twice before they go into collaborations with companies like Shell.”

Lego, based in Denmark, claims it was unfairly targeted over Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic. In a statement, the company says that Greenpeace should have had a direct conversation with Shell, and said it was wrong for Greenpeace to embroil Lego in its dispute.

The advertising partnership between Shell and Lego had included videos such as how to build a Ferrari from Lego bricks. By some estimates, ending this relationship could cost Lego around $100 million.

“Lego is a very easy target because any bad publicity could reflect on their sales. The ethics of Greenpeace are very dubious because if Greenpeace has a problem with drilling in the Arctic, they should go directly to the companies doing exploration in the Arctic instead of taking a hostage such as Lego,” said Christopher Arzouni, Opinion Editor for the financial newspaper “Borsen”.

Shell declined to be interviewed for this story. Greenpeace is determined to keep the pressure on Shell’s partners. The next round of confrontation could happen next summer when Shell hopes to obtain some oil exploration permits.

CCTV America is joined by Dean Crutchfield, an international brand consultant, to talk about the use of “brand jacking” marketing.