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Lego cutting ties with Shell after public outcry

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Posted at 3:05 PM, Oct 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 17:40:19-04

Lego Group, the world’s leading toy maker, will disassemble a 3-year partnership with Shell Oil Co. after a public outcry that was ignited by a controversial video campaign that went viral.

That video, titled “Everything is NOT awesome” — a twist on the song “Everything is Awesome” from 2014’s “The Lego Movie” — was posted to Greenpeace’s YouTube page in July as a protest to the partnership. The video, produced completely with Lego bricks, featured a Shell oil rig drilling in the arctic, flooding the area with oil.

Greenpeace, the world’s largest independent direct-action environmental organization, said “Everything is NOT awesome” was the most viral video it had ever produced, currently with nearly 6 million views on YouTube. Despite the displeasure of Lego Group’s corporate leadership with the video, it apparently made an impression.

“We will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends,” said Lego Group CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, in a statement Wednesday. “We do not want to be part of Greenpeace’s campaign and we will not comment any further on the campaign.”

“This is fantastic news for Lego fans and Arctic defenders everywhere,” wrote Ian Duff, a Greenpeace campainger, after Knudstorp’s announcement went public. “It’s a huge blow to Shell’s strategy of partnering with beloved brands to clean up its dirty image.”

Knudstorp’s statement indicated his company’s partnership with Shell made the toys available for sale at the oil giant’s nearly 14,000 gas stations. “A co-promotion like the one with Shell is one of many ways we are able to bring Lego bricks into the hands of more children and deliver on our promise of creative play,” he wrote.

“We are determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet that children will inherit,” Knudstorp said. In August, Lego Group announced its products would be sold in more environmentally-friendly packaging, vowing to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 metric tons this year.

Duff’s blog post claimed that the Greenpeace video campaign spurred over 1 million people worldwide to email Lego Group, asking it to end “its inappropriate deal” with Shell.

Last month, the Denmark-based Lego Group became the world’s most profitable toymaker, passing American outfits Mattel and Hasbro.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.