Lego to cut ties with Shell after Greenpeace pressure campaign

Toy-maker Lego is ending its decades-long collaborative relationship with oil company Royal Dutch Shell.

The Danish-based Lego announced late Wednesday that it would end its promotional deal with Shell, citing pressure from the environmental organization Greenpeace.


Greenpeace had targeted the two companies, more specifically Lego, urging the toy company to cut its ties with Shell.

In a video released earlier this year, Greenpeace recreated an Arctic landscape with Legos that is flooded by oil spilled from a nearby rig built.

Greenpeace also circulated a petition calling on Lego to break the partnership, arguing the oil company was using Lego's "carefree image" for its branding.

Since the 1960s, Lego has built playsets branded with the Shell logo that include filling stations, tanker trucks and more. Lego has similar contracts with other companies.

Greenpeace had said the partnership should be suspended due to Shell's drilling in the Arctic, which is considers reckless. Lego originally made no move to cut ties, telling Greenpeace to talk to Shell directly about its concerns.

On Wednesday, however, Lego chief executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said "as things currently stand we will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends."

The contract is set to expire in 2016, Shell told PR Week. 

"We are determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet that children will inherit," Knudstorp said.

Lego blasted Greenpeace for dragging it into its Arctic campaign against Shell.

"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," Vig Knudstorp said in a statement.

Greenpeace cheered the move, calling it a win for the Arctic.

"This is fantastic news for LEGO fans and Arctic defenders everywhere," Greenpeace wrote on its website. "And it’s a huge blow to Shell’s strategy of partnering with beloved brands to clean up its dirty image as an Arctic oil driller."

Shell didn't comment directly on the news that Lego would not renew its co-branding partnership with the oil company, but told PR Week that the latest collaboration has been a "success."

Shell pulled out of the Arctic after a series of mishaps during drilling in 2013, but has not ruled out future operations.