Shell can’t make Arctic Drilling OK by sponsoring Jazz Fest

by Tyler Sanville

April 29, 2014

This past weekend Greenpeace took to the skies and the ground at New Orleans Jazz Fest to make sure Shell knows that no matter how much dirty money it spends, nobody is fooled by its PR campaign.

A 100 foot banner reading Love Jazz Fest Hate Oil Spills tailed a light plane flying above the tens of thousands people attending the iconic festival.


Inside the festival a group of activists handed out thousands of stickers and paper fans. The fans and stickers were branded with the now famous mashup of the Shell logo, devil horns, and a polar bear, with the hashtag #SaveTheArctic.

But wait a minute…what is big oil doing at a cultural institution like Jazz Fest?

Trying to buy our acquiescence, thats what. Shell is going the tried and true route of sponsoring cultural events to gain public support for its dirty business. And that dirt includes contributing to climate change and controversial plans to drill in the Arctic.


In fact, Shell is so desperate that it is the lead sponsor of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Strange that in a city so close to the site of the largest oil spill and environmental disaster in American history, another oil company is slyly trying to win a social license to put the fragile Arctic at risk.

Strange or just bad?


By partnering with brands and institutions that are loved or considered clean, Shell acquires the good will and respectability it would otherwise struggle to obtain. And it can get it at a fraction of the cost of advertising and PR campaigns. Shell needs investors, partners, and the regulators in its pocket. To do so it has to convince the public to trust it.

A plane flies a Greenpeace banner that says "Love JazzFest/Hate Oil Spills" over the crowd at JazzFest.

A plane flies a Greenpeace banner that says “Love JazzFest/Hate Oil Spills” over the crowd at JazzFest.

So last weekend, Greenpeace activsts and music lovers alike celebrated New Orleans Jazz Fest.Festival-goers even went one step further to make sure Shell got the message tweeting, posting, and sharing their SavetheArctic gear back at the oil company.

Together we all reminded Shell that putting its logo on a beloved local tradition doesnt mean that anybody buys its risky schemes.

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