Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A JANGBRiCKS response to Greenpeace's LEGO-Shell video "Everything Is Not Awesome"

Greenpeace today posted the following emotional video in support of their movement to stop LEGO from cross-promoting the Shell brand in a small number of their sets:


If you are of age and interest, you can sign the petition and support the movement at http://www.greenpeace.org/awesomevideo .

Unfortunately I am 100% certain that this video, clearly designed to tug at heartstrings of children to encourage their parents to act (very smart marketing) is going to motivate an undue, unreasonable, illogical, emotion-driven cyber-riot.

The intent of the post you are reading now is not to sway you into either supporting or denouncing this movement -- your choice there is none of my business or concern.  The intent is to motivate you to think, to truly think, before allowing a haze of emotion to cloud a complex reality.

I was raised in a family that actively supported Greenpeace.  The organization has done a lot of amazing work, and many of their active members have made incredible sacrifices fighting for what they believe in.  Many of those fights have been against the company known as Shell.  Not only Shell, though, not only large oil companies, but many companies in many industries around the world, have been directly or indirectly responsible for atrocities against nature and mankind alike.  These atrocities should be known, they should be understood, and against them people should take a stand.  Before you take a stand, though, understand for what exactly you intend to stand.

Follow very this direct and objective train of logic:
  1. Not only do the relatively tiny number of LEGO sets that are co-branded with Shell promote the oil & gas industry, but so do those with the made-up "Octan" brand.  Octan sets teach kids that oil & gas production, transportation, and use, are purely clean, safe, happy things. If you are against LEGO/Shell, consider for yourself whether you should also be against LEGO/Octan.
  2. Not only do Shell, Octan & related LEGO sets promote & support the oil & gas production industry, but so do all sets that positively portray & promote the use of fossil fuels.  This includes nearly every LEGO City/Town car, truck, airplane, and boat set ever made.  They glorify & glamorize the consumption of petroleum products (from producers like Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, et al.).  If you are against LEGO/Shell & LEGO/oil/gas, consider for yourself whether you should also be against LEGO/cars/trucks/planes/boats in general.
  3. Not only do LEGO transportation-related sets promote the oil & gas production industry, but they are direct products of it.  LEGO parts are made of ABS plastic.  ABS is largely petroleum-derived.  It effectively comes from crude oil -- crude oil that is produced by oil & gas companies like Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, et al.  If you are against LEGO/Shell & LEGO/oil/gas, consider whether you should be against LEGO in general.
  4. Not only are LEGO parts derived from crude oil, but so are most "plastic" items you interact with every single day of your life.  This includes almost all toys, your keyboard & mouse, your phone cover, disposable eating utensils, toothbrushes, plastic milk bottles, your nylon & polyester clothes & pillows, carpets, refrigerator handles & liners, bicycle tires, car tires, car seats, dashboards, and bumpers, linoleum floors at school or work, backpacks, umbrellas, makeup, Aspirin, chewing gum, and countless other items. These things all are made from crude oil, produced by oil & gas companies like Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, et al.  Of course we can't forget about gasoline & diesel fuels themselves, the ones that power real cars & trucks & busses & boats & trains & planes. If you are against LEGO/Shell & LEGO/oil/gas, consider whether you should be against all of the products you rely upon every minute of every day and night that are made from crude oil.
Again, if you choose to support Greenpeace's work to remove Shell branding from LEGO products, that is your choice, and I've even helped you do so by embedding the video above and linking you directly to http://www.greenpeace.org/awesomevideo .  Just be sure to think, to truly think, before taking dramatic actions.  Think, truly think, before fully demonizing & boycotting LEGO, inciting online rage against this family-grown company that most people in the world applaud for their extraordinarily positive values & impact on the lives of children worldwide.  Understand that you can choose to disapprove of & work to end one small thing that they do, without deriding the entire company, their entire positive history, and all of their other wonderful, positive products.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance for taking whatever action you choose (if any) on this matter from a perspective of reason and true understanding.

-Bamidele O. Shangobunmi
a.k.a. "JANG"
JANGBRiCKS.com

PS:  If you support rational thought & responsible actions, please share a direct link to this post with others and also do your own personal part in your own way to support balanced, mature, logical discussions of this topic wherever you see it arise.

20 comments:

  1. I think Lego is only responsible for companies in its supply chain. Why would they regulate Shell, when they have no expertise in oil drilling? Should they also employ space experts to ensure NASA is operating ethically? Leave regulation to the government - as long as the ABS plastic is produced ethically, Lego are not a part of this discussion. I believe Greenpeace are being manipulative to use a child's toy to fight an almost entirely irrelevant battle.

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  2. I will keep this brief- Well said Jang!

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  3. this i s ridicoulous shell is a hippocritical company with no back bone

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  4. After reading the description about the petition, one has to wonder if they really want to live in a world without crude oil?

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  5. Thanks for this really thoughtful and considered blog. Full disclosure: I work for Greenpeace on this campaign and so some will say I have a ‘vested interest’ in this discussion.

    You’re absolutely right that many LEGO sets contain vehicles, buildings and other elements that are powered by fossil fuels. LEGO prides itself on allowing us to recreate the world we see but add, reshape and reimagine it. We hope that the company will start to sell sets with electric cars, cutting-edge wind turbines and the cool geodesic domes that we’re all going to live in pretty soon (maybe).

    But when LEGO chooses an external company to partner with, they have a responsibility to make sure that company fits with their values, their long term vision for our world. LEGO has done some genuinely impressive work in this area, from cleaning up their existing supply chains to working towards 100% renewable energy across their operations. They’ve also pledged to end the use of oil in their bricks by 2030.

    Shell’s long term vision for the future is regressive in the extreme. The company expects to be selling oil for decades, and predicts that by 2050 over two thirds of our energy will still come from fossil fuels. This is a scenario that even the most hardened industry experts admit would be game over for a stable, livable climate. Their drilling plans in the Arctic are not even expected to come on stream until the mid 2020s at the earliest. By 2030, when they’re hitting full capacity, LEGO will have turned its back on oil completely. LEGO is trying to set a positive direction for the future. Shell’s entire business is based on a dirtier, more dangerous vision.

    Taking a look at the overall picture, it’s clear that Shell gets so much more from this deal than LEGO does. From access to young consumers, to association with LEGO’s creative brand, to the immensely important ‘social license to operate’ that oil companies are starting to value so highly. Shell gets access to playgrounds, car seats, trains and imaginations, where their brand is seen as a safe, normal and unavoidable part of modern life. It is not. It cannot be, if we are to deal with the huge threat that global warming poses to us and our kids.

    We’re asking LEGO to square the circle between its values and the companies it chooses to endorse. It’s that simple. We’re confident that when they look at this carefully, LEGO’s executives will realise that Royal Dutch Shell - with its reckless Arctic drilling plans - is simply not the right fit for such a progressive, modern brand.

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    1. I'm sure that Lego stopped promoting Shell years ago. The closest thing is Octan, but that's being openly portrayed as evil.

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    2. No they didn't. Just last year a PR company Iris International won a award for the best international campaign for the Lego-assisted Shell promotion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKtNMNw6XxM

      The partnership between Shell and Lego still exists:

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  6. Mr Turner, perhaps you should research the company you are protesting prior to protesting them. The Shell partnership is tiny in comparison to the number of sets that are available every year. LEGO has twice featured an electric car as a free set given away to children at Toys R Us and they also currently have a wind turbine. I have always been a proud supporter of Greenpeace but this time you are lancing at windmills.

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    1. Hi Big B Bricks. We have done a fair amount of research into LEGO as a company, but of course you guys know much more about the overall brand than we do. What we're focused on are the co-promotion deals, when Shell chooses to work with an external company. As you can see from the video posted in the comment above, this promo deal is actually the largest in LEGO history. It might not be a big part of their overall sales, but it's a significant piece of business for Shell who are able to gloss over some of the riskier parts of their business like Arctic oil drilling by partnering with a well loved, progressive brand.

      Thanks for being a supporter of Greenpeace, and I hope you will continue to be in the future as well. We're really hoping that LEGO will see that this deal doesn't fit with their really excellent record on ethics and sustainability.

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  7. Shell's vision is not a helpful one. We all participate in this fossil-fuel based economy, but can ask the economic powers to take a new direction, even applying pressure when necessary. The planet belongs to all of us.

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  8. JANGBRiCKS You can't really believe Greenpeace are advocating stopping using oil tomorrow? Surely they're advocating spreading an awareness of what the oil industry is doing in order to satisfy our insatiable appetite for shiny new things, so that we can act accordingly and not just out of ignorant self interest.

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  9. Sorry to bother you, but I typed out a huge response and posted it with my raw google account and it didn't show up on the page. Did my original message get lost, or is there a comment moderation queue? I just went to the thing to make the limited blogger account, so that's what I'm using to post this question this time.

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    1. There is indeed a queue, but nothing else came through I'm afraid. Try testing just a small response from your normal G+ account?

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  10. Well, since I now get a message that says "Your comment will be visible after approval." I suppose I have my answer.

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  11. Ugh, looks like what happens is that it erases the message each time you log into your Blogger account via google garbage. Oh well. You know what should become the new thing? As opposed to the fading "Thanks, Obama" joke?
    "Thanks, Google." Have you heard about the new VoD audio muting at Twitch.tv?

    I guess I could sort of summarize: I was trying to explain how being against the LEGO-Shell partnership doesn't automatically assign a person an opinion of being "against" LEGO, whatever that means, honestly.

    This campaign is not anti-LEGO. That would be ridiculous. I can assure you that if you asked any environmentalist if they disliked Shell, they'd say yes. I can also pretty much guarantee that if you asked them if they in turn disliked everything produced from oil to ever exist, they'd say no.

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  12. If Green Peace had their way we'd still be in the Stone Age. :P #StopTheHippies

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    1. Stop the hippies, Stone Age. LOL. Priceless laughs

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  13. i think its a good thing we teach kids oil and gas because when they play with those kind of toys they want to become oil rig workers or ship captains power the world one barrel at a time

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  14. Yeah gas and oil aren't bad. If you are serious about this then get rid of your car and anything else that uses gas or oil. If you are seroius,you'll do it. I'm not against gas or oil.

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