Arctic Ready, Shell’s Massive Hoax

by Travis Nichols

July 19, 2012

A fake Shell Oil billboard in Houston, July 19, 2012, reads "You Can't RunYour SUV on Cute, Let's Go." The sign mocks Shell's current advertising campaign with an image of a polar bear and cubs. By chasing after hard-to-reach oil in remote and dangerous places, Shell is putting polar bears, walruses and other Arctic wildlife at risk.

Donna Carson/Greenpeace

A fake Shell Oil billboard in Houston, July 19, 2012, reads "You Can't RunYour SUV on Cute, Let's Go."

Early this morning, Greenpeace mounted a satirical billboard near Shells Houston headquarters featuring a family of polar bears branded with the slogan You cant run your SUV on cute. Lets Go.

We chose this ad from the over 10,000 user-generated online submissions to, a web collaboration with Yes Lab designed to heighten awareness of Shells plan to exploit melting sea ice to drill for oil in Alaska. The site has been up for a month, but as the drill window has come closer users have flocked to the site, registering nearly 2 million pageviews in the past week.

The site’s users have turned it into a global phenomenon (the Sydney Morning Herald called it social media oil spill), and after watching the traffic balloon to epic proportions, we decided it was time to say, Thanks. This Houston billboard was our way of taking such terrific online activism and placing it in the real world, specifically out in front of thousands of Texas commuters traveling on the road to One Shell Plaza.

We know Shell has the cash to try to control the story of Arctic drilling, but its been remarkable to see the legions of Arctic defenders use the Arctic Read ad-generator to tell Shell that they see through the PR to the truth–that Arctic drilling is a profit grab by one of the worlds richest corporations at the expense of everyone else on the planet. has clearly given people the chance to tell Shell exactly what they think, and around the world people have taken the opportunity to the max.

Thanks, people of Earth!

Of course, not everyone has been thrilled with this tactic–some people have said were the real villains in this Arctic fight because we are, in their words, perpetuating a hoax.

But what is a hoax? When, for example, a company says it will be able to safely drill in the Arctic while abiding by clean air standards when its known all along that it cant? When it purports to have a credible spill response plan for one of the most remote and treacherous regions on earth but is just winging it on a hope and a prayer? When its boasted its ice class vessels will be sea-worthy in Arctic storms when, well, actually, maybe not so much? Maybe when its acted as if it has control of its 14,000 ton drill rig out in Dutch Harbor even as the thing goes drifting off towards town as if no one were at the wheel? Or how about when it says we desperately need to destroy one of the last pristine places on earth in order to make more piggies?

That sounds like a massive hoax that would put Balloon Boy to shame! I can only imagine the outrage that will erupt once these same people figure out theyve been had–AGAIN!

Of course, what has shown is that people around the world have stopped falling for Shells Arctic hoax. The public sees Shell for what it is, the richest of the 1% trying to suck profits no matter the risk to the planet, and the 99% have had enough.

Shell, you hoaxsters, your cover has been blown. Time to own up to the truth

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