Lego Ends Partnership with Shell: A win for the environment or PR?

Lego Ends Partnership with Shell: A win for the environment or PR?

09 October 2014 | Pic PR

Great news! Lego has ended its partnership with Shell following the fantastic campaign Greenpeace has been running against the company. Regular readers of our blog may remember I wrote a previous post on this, if you haven’t seen it or would like to refresh your memory it you can read it here.

Greenpeace set a campaign underway and showed no signs of giving up until they got their way. Lego initially tried to remove themselves from the equation issuing a statement saying that this was an issue between Greenpeace and Shell.

The way Greenpeace executed their campaign was, in my opinion, flawless. They targeted the company again and again with stunts and online campaigns that could not be ignored by the general public. This included a mesmerising parody video which attracted almost six million views and other stunts including dressing as Lego figures and targeting Legoland in Windsor.

Lego have finally given into the pressure and issued a statement saying they would not be renewing their current contract with Shell.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, chief executive of Lego Group, said: “We want to clarify that as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends…We do not agree with the tactics used by Greenpeace that may have created misunderstandings among our stakeholders about the way we operate; and we want to ensure that our attention is not diverted from our commitment to delivering creative and inspiring play experiences.”

But why did Lego backtrack on their decision? It was clear to see that customer sentiment was changing against the brand, but was that reflected in their sales figures? Not really. The Lego movie earned them billions and there are already sequels in the planning. The reason behind the decision was based entirely on reputation and the pressure that was put on the company not only by Greenpeace but also the public. So the campaigning organisation won and Lego are now free from their involvement in the destruction of the environment by oil drilling? Wrong!

A past colleague got in touch with me this morning when the news broke as they knew I had been very interested in the campaign. And raised a very intelligent point: Where does the plastic come from that Lego blocks are made from? The answer…oil! So that means that even though the company are no longer partnering with Shell publically they are going to have to continue to have a relationship with some oil company and play a part in the drilling in the artic if they want to continue making their product. This will impact on the environment much more than the public campaign with Shell but nobody is talking about this. I always knew PR and reputation management was a very important part of business but I think this ultimately highlights the real power of PR!