After 50 years, LEGO will finally end its co-marketing campaign with Shell Oil. The move comes in the wake of a viral video from Greenpeace which brought attention to a branding effort that seeks to sell big oil to small kids. The video, “Everything is NOT Awesome,” shows a pristine Arctic landscape made from 265lbs of LEGO being slowly submerged in oil, a reference to Shell’s continued efforts to begin drilling in the Arctic.
Since the 1960s, LEGO has produced kits that feature the Shell Oil brand on toy filling stations, tanker trucks and race cars, which have been available for sale at Shell gas stations in 26 countries. LEGO’s current contract with Shell began in 2011 and is worth around $110 million.
But this summer Greenpeace launched a wide-reaching campaign that targeted LEGO for getting into—and staying—in bed with Shell. In addition to “Everything is NOT Awesome,” which received close to six million views on YouTube, an online petition and adbusting campaign with slogans that included “Don’t Let Shell Pollute Our Kids Minds” and “They Can’t Rebuild the Arctic With LEGO’s, Keep Shell From Destroying It.”
While LEGO maintains that their partnership with Shell is “one of many ways we are able to bring LEGO bricks into the hands of more children,” and were decidedly prickly in their verbiage about Greenpeace, the Danish Toy company conceded on Wednesday that “as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends.”
Earlier this year, Shell tabled plans to begin drilling in the Arctic, but the company has recently submitted plans that could enable drilling to begin in 2015. Conversely, LEGO has done much to build a greener company, including efforts to find an alternative to the crude oil that is currently used in the building blocks.