Greenpeace, the Yes Men and the inside story of #ShellFail

by James Turner

June 8, 2012

Original #ShellFail video here.

by James Turner

Shell has spent billions trying to persuade the world that Arctic drilling is not as obscene as it really is. The company opens its giant war chest every time it needs to put a message in front of the public, or wants to gain access to a certain politician. Shell is trying to hide the fact that it is exploiting global warming to drill for more of the oil that is causing global warming in the first place. You can see why thats a message it would like to keep quiet.

Thats why we decided to get creative. For the past few months weve been working with the Yes Lab to design an entirely positive, enthusiastic campaign for Arctic drilling. Were using Shells actual advertising slogan Lets Go to tell it like it really is. If youre ignoring scientists and trampling over the natural world to make billions in profit, why hide it? Ignoring the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced to boost your quarterly results? Lets Go!

Arctic Read Ad

A spoof of Shell's Let's Go Ad Campaign on

With help from the Yes Lab we built a special Arctic Ready website for Shell, which houses our new advertisements, plus a tool for you to create your own. Take a moment to choose a picture and add your own message there are some great ones up already. Weve even built a charming kids game Angry Bergs to keep the littluns happy. Watch the dollars flood in as you protect your oil platform from those pesky natural hazards. Unsinkable.

But the centerpiece of the campaign was a gala event we created to give Shells drilling rigs (which are currently docked in Seattle) the send off they deserved. We hired the Skyline room at the Space Needle, invited a host of local energy leaders, and brought in a large team of actors. The piece de resistance was a beautiful ice sculpture which rested in a bath of cola next to a scale model of the Kulluk drill rig.

But something went horribly, hilariously wrong. As our guest of honor turned on the spigot to get the black gold flowing, there was an uncontrolled blowout. Sadly, in such a remote setting no one had the right equipment to deal with it. The elderly lady who caught the spurt full in the face was supposedly the widow of the rigs original designer – but it was actually 84 year old Occupy activist Dorli Rainey who was brutally pepper sprayed last year. Shells harried reps did their best to contain the unfolding PR disaster, but alas the footage somehow got out. The resulting video has been viewed over half a million times already, generated a dubstep remix and sparked an entirely new brand: #shellfail

For many hours yesterday this story was one of the biggest things on the internet, sparking a wave of speculation and sharing. New tactics like this can help get the issue of Arctic drilling to a global audience, and expose its absurd, illogical nature. Humanitys finest scientists have discovered a major problem in the way we use and consume energy, but companies like Shell are acting as if global warming doesnt exist. In fact, theyre exploiting it to get more oil. Ultimately, thats the biggest swindle of all.

Its time for a global movement to protect the Arctic from corporate greed, to take back sanity from those who have lost the plot. Greenpeace is working with an international coalition to SavetheArctic and put this pristine wilderness off limits for good. This is fast becoming one of the defining environmental battles of our age. And this is just a taste of whats to come.

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