LEGO putting cash before kids, says Greenpeace as it kicks off global campaign

Press release - July 2, 2014

Greenpeace today launched a major new global campaign targeting the world’s biggest toy company [1], LEGO. They’ll be mobilising more than 5 million online Arctic supporters and thousands of activists to take creative action in six continents as part of the campaign [2].

In a new report [3], released today, Greenpeace accuse LEGO of putting sales above its commitment to the environment and children’s futures.

It called for LEGO to stop making toys with oil giant Shell’s branding on, because Shell is threatening the Arctic and the unique wildlife that depend on it. It warned Shell is using LEGO to neutralise controversy over its climate impacts and highly dangerous plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.  

Since 2012, Shell’s Arctic programme has faced fierce criticism from environmental NGOs and regulators. In that same period 16 million [4] Shell-branded LEGO sets were sold or given away at petrol stations in 26 countries [5], making Shell a major contributor to LEGO’s global sales [6].

Shell’s PR company valued the most recent two-year deal at $116 million, and reported that Shell achieved a 7.5% worldwide sales uplift during the promotion [7]. LEGO has confirmed to Greenpeace that a further co-promotion between Shell and LEGO has been agreed to start this year.

Last night, New Zealand time, the campaign kicked off with a surge of pocket-sized protests in the UK. Staff at LEGOLAND in London, England, were baffled as outbreaks of LEGO Minifigure protests spread throughout the popular theme park. From the UK’s Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower in France to a World Cup football stadium in Brazil - no part of miniland was spared. The mini-protesters hung mini-banners saying ‘Save the Arctic’ and ‘block Shell’.

Ian Duff, Arctic Campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Children love the Arctic and its unique wildlife like polar bears, narwhals and walruses that are completely dependent on the Arctic sea ice. It’s a fragile environment and an oil spill would be devastating. And of course the only reason Shell can even reach the oil is because global warming is melting the ice.

“Climate change is an enormous threat facing all children around the world, but Shell is trying to hijack the magic of LEGO to hide its role. It is using LEGO to clean up its image and divert attention from its dangerous plans to raid the pristine Arctic for oil. And it’s exploiting kids’ love of their toys to build life-long loyalty it doesn’t deserve. It’s time for LEGO to finally pull the plug on this deal. We’re calling on LEGO to stand up for Arctic protection, and for children, by ditching Shell for good.”

Commenting on the new campaign, Susan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, said:

“Children form strong emotional attachments in childhood that last a lifetime, and companies know that all too well. Adverts aimed at children are bad enough, but branding their favourite playthings gain companies like Shell many hours and even days of their dedicated time, energy and love. We need to protect children’s imaginative play from branding for many reasons, including the important need for them to explore their own ideas and develop their own world view.”





Genevieve Toop, Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner, on 021 316 840

Niall Bennett, Greenpeace New Zealand head of communications on 0221 831 740

Photos will be downloadable at
Contact Daphne Christelis for high-res copies on +44 20 7865 8118 or 


See the petition page for the campaign for Lego to drop Shell at:


Report out today: LEGO is keeping bad company: no more playdates with Shell.

Media briefing on Shell’s threat to the Arctic

End notes:

[1] Lego builds yet another record profit to become world's top toymaker, Guardian, 27 February 2014

[2] Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America and South America.

[3] LEGO is keeping bad company: no more playdates with Shell, Greenpeace, 1 July 2014

[4] Shell Lego vimeo, Iris Worldwide, 2013

[5] Australia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Argentina, UK, Denmark, Pakistan, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, France, Greece, Ukraine, Singapore, Netherlands.

[6] LEGOs responsibility report states they reached 75 million children in 2013 through sales of its LEGO sets. LEGO Responsibility Report 2013.    

[7] Iris Annual 2014, iris Worldwide, 6 May 2014