Jessica Edberg is a mother of two. Her daughter, Lily, aged 7, took part in a playful protest yesterday against LEGO's partnership with Shell. 50 kids in total protested by building three giant LEGO Arctic animals outside of Shell's HQ in London. With their parents and guardians, they called on LEGO to stop promoting Shell's logo on LEGO toys because kids love the Arctic and don't want Shell to destroy it.
My partner and I thought long and hard about joining this campaign; of course as adults we agree with both the message and the methods of Greenpeace. But we do not want to put words into our children's mouths, so our biggest concerns were whether our children would understand what they were doing, and would they understand why?
After reading the brief from Greenpeace we felt reassured we were not putting our children at risk, so then the decision whether to participate or not had to be theirs. We had a long chat with them about Shell, what they do and that their logo is used on some LEGO products, and we asked them what they thought about this.
That's when we realised that we had underestimated the abilities of our 5 and 7-year-old children. Both already knew that Greenpeace worked to save the polar bears and that petrol and oil pollute the environment. When asked what they thought about the fact that the Shell logo can be found on LEGO toys our 7 year old answered: 'that is bad because then children might be tricked into liking Shell'. As a parent I felt proud that our children had already figured out the cunning ways of hidden marketing.
Our children had shown us that they have an honest concern about the environment and the future of our planet. LEGO is also one of their favourite toys and they obviously care about the message sent to other children by using Shell's logo.
So, we explained to them what they were asked to do in this campaign and asked them if they would choose to join in. 'Will LEGO stop using their logo then?' they asked. 'We don't know', we answered, 'but at least then you will have told them what you think about it'. 'And grown ups need to listen to children if they want us to listen to them!' they continued.
We believe that our job as parents is first of all to make sure that our children are safe, and as they grow up, for us that means we need to equip them with a belief in themselves in order to enable them to build a strong integrity. To give our children the opportunity to voice their opinions publicly, and teach them that their opinions are important and should be listened to, is one of many ways to do this. That is why we chose to participate in this campaign.