Over the last year, Lego has been the brand that could do no wrong. Who else could turn a 90-minute commercial into a hit movie?
But Greenpeace is using the brand's high profile and squeaky clean image to draw attention to Shell's impact on the environment through practices like arctic drilling. The environmental group's latest campaign targets Lego's partnership with the oil company, which Greenpeace says has included 16 million Shell-branded Lego toys being sold or given away at gas stations in 26 countries.
Greenpeace says the licensing deal uses children's playrooms to prop up Shell's public image and is a "carefully thought-out strategy by Shell to buy friends who can make its controversial Arctic drilling plans acceptable and misleadingly associate it with positive values."
Activists reportedly went to a Legoland outside London to alter various Lego scenes—like U.K. Parliament—with the toy's iconic mini-figs as protesters with anti-Arctic drilling messages.
Agency Iris Worldwide estimated the PR value of the deal between Lego and Shell is worth $116 million in this case study video, since removed by the agency but resurrected by Greenpeace.
Instead of plugging its ears and singing a happy song Lego responded quickly over Twitter. In a series of tweets it said, "We're always thankful for input we receive from fans, children, and parents alike. We know the importance of this issue. We're determined to leave a positive impact on our society & children. We're saddened when the Lego brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organizations. However, we fully expect Shell to live up to their responsibility & take appropriate action to any potential claims. It is important to us that any partnerships we have support our vision, promise, & has Lego play at the core."