It’s nearly a month into the campaign to ask much loved toy-maker LEGO to ditch their arctic-drilling partner Shell. Over 670,000 around the world have joined the campaign so far and LEGO have been the target of Greenpeace actions at their HQs, factory, and in public on several continents, heaping the pressure on them to respond. But since then they have just made one public response on their website, and then used the same text in every media quote and Facebook response. So we’ve looked at their response in detail and have answered it in full here.
LEGO say: The LEGO Group operates in a responsible manner and continually strives to live up to the motto of the company since 1932: Only the best is good enough. We are determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet that children will inherit. Our unique contribution is through inspiring and developing children by delivering creative play experiences all over the world.
Our response: LEGO is a great company. It has fantastic social and environmental values and has made real leaps in reducing its environmental impact. For example, LEGO has pledged to phase out the use of oil and replace it with a sustainable alternative by 2030. It’s also worked to reduce its packaging and ensure all its packaging and printed materials are FSC-certified.
But Shell has made no such environmental commitment and remains hooked on oil, so much so that it wants to go to the ends of the earth, to the icy Arctic, to get it. By letting Shell put its logo on toys, it’s helping Shell clean up its dirty image and push through its damaging plans. By helping to mask Shell’s environmental crimes, LEGO are not living up to their own standards, or demonstrating any consideration for the planet our children will inherit.
LEGO say: A co-promotion contract like the one with Shell is one of many ways we are able to bring LEGO bricks into the hands of more children.
Our response: Come on guys! LEGO is a great and creative toy, but it’s a toy. It’s not food, or water purification tablets, or a malaria vaccine. Getting LEGO "into the hands of more children" through a commercial promotion with a deeply unethical company is threatening to ruin LEGO’s good name. By promoting Shell branding on its toys, LEGO is helping Shell get away with threatening the Arctic, and the unique wildlife that live there. And that’s not OK. It’s time for LEGO to stand up for Arctic protection, and for children, by ditching Shell for good.
LEGO say: We welcome and are inspired by all relevant input we receive from fans, children, parents, NGOs and other stakeholders. They have high expectations to the way we operate. So do we.
Our response: So far over 600,000 people have signed our petition to ask LEGO to end their partnership with Shell, many of them parents and fans of LEGO. LEGO have made only one response, at the start of our campaign. Since then they have battened down the hatches, cancelled a meeting, and even refused to accept the delivery of petitions to their Danish and UK HQs. In response to questions from fans on their social media feeds, LEGO regurgitate parts of this statement, rather than responding personally. PR and financial press are writing stories about how LEGO is failing to respond adequately to their customers, and how the association with Shell is damaging their brand. So will LEGO break their silence and reply to their fans?
LEGO say: 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.
Our response: LEGO thinks it has nothing to do with the "dispute" between Greenpeace and Shell - yet it is picking sides when it decides to partner with Shell. It can't step out of the dispute because it's already picked sides. LEGO has decided to be Shell's ally, to help improve its image. As long as LEGO is helping Shell they'll be a legitimate target of any campaign that hopes to challenge Shell.
LEGO say: 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.
Our response: It is neither responsible nor safe to drill for oil in the Arctic. Doing so will exacerbate the global warming that has caused much of the Arctic sea ice to melt in the first place. Experts agree that an oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up. So far Shell has not operated legally, or safely, in the Arctic.
Its drilling vessels Noble Discoverer and Kulluk both failed to meet the pollution limits set by the US Clean Air Act, designed to keep the atmosphere in places like the Arctic as pure as possible. And this didn’t just happen once. Authorities discovered multiple violations during the time both ships spent in the icy waters of the Arctic and fined Shell over $1m.
They also crashed their oil rig, their drill ship had a damaging fire and their oil spill emergency equipment was "crushed like a beer can" in testing. They've also tried to dodge taxes in Alaska and ignored safety warnings.
LEGO say: I would like to clarify that we intend to live up to the long term contract with Shell, which we entered into in 2011.
Our response: Shell is getting a lot from this partnership. They have sold 16 million special LEGO kits at their petrol stations in 33 countries. It has been worth $116 million in publicity to Shell. During the life of the promotion their fuel sales increased by 7.5% and they have described the partnership as "successful and productive". But what are LEGO getting? The deal with Shell may damage LEGO’s brand for good.
LEGO say: We will continue to live our motto of “only the best is good enough” and deliver creative and inspiring LEGO play experiences to children all over the world.
Our response: By allowing Shell to put its logo on their toys, LEGO helps Shell to pretend it’s a caring, family-friendly company. But it isn’t. It’s lying to parents and exploiting kids’ love of their toys to build life-long loyalty it doesn’t deserve. Shell is one of the biggest climate polluters on the planet and now it’s threatening the Arctic. Children love the Arctic, and its unique wildlife like polar bears and narwhals. They wouldn’t want to see them threatened. It is the height of hypocrisy for LEGO to produce new Arctic play sets to appeal to children, and then work with a company that is threatening to destroy this unique place.