Shell is an Award-Winning Global Greenwasher Now

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Make the Future screenshot

Oil giant Shell won the ‘Corporate Influencer’ gong at the 2017 World Media Awards.

The winning campaign, called “Best Day of My Life”, featured a music video featuring ‘energy innovations’ that Shell is supporting, and it went viral shortly after its release.

Shell were understandably smug about their award. Last autumn, the “Best Day of My Life” video went viral in the first week with over 20 million views and is now up to almost 50 million.

The campaign has absolutely exceeded anything we'd imagined, and we were able to achieve something unbelievable for us as a brand,” said Diana Altmann, Global Media Manager for Brand Communications at Shell.

For the video, Shell used an international posse of artists, targeted YouTube advertising, and an undeniably catchy feel-good song to highlight their support for certain renewable and energy efficiency startups.

One of the solutions Shell champions in the video, it’s interesting to note, is its energy efficiency car rallies (competitions to see who can use fuel most efficiently) rather than the idea of ditching oil as a fuel source.

In the comments section, Shell keep it relentlessly upbeat. Witness:

Reading these comments and bopping along to “Best Day of My Life”, it might be easy to forget this is a Big Oil company we’re talking about.

Climate Hypocrisy

This is an oil major that has lobbied the EU against clean energy regulations that would boost the uptake of electric vehicles. Shell, along with BP are in fact the top two biggest lobbyists in Europe spending a combined sum of nearly £6 million over the past two years to influence policy.

Shell is also an oil company whose R&D and renewable arm budgets are far dwarfed by the scale of its fossil fuels business. Shell invests $1.3 billion a year on R&D and last year consolidated its renewables projects into a new division that has a capital investment of $1.7 billion – breaking down into $200 million per year capital expenditure.

These are tiny slices of the investment pie when considered against the $30bn Shell pumps into oil and gas.

Shell is also one of the oil majors investing in a climate fund which analysts say is seriously undersized compared to the urgency and scale of tackling manmade global warming and its impacts.

The oil giant is undertaking all of these actions – also previously setting out its vision for a 2 degrees world – but its business model and strategy still doesn’t proportionately line up with the size of the issue of climate change.

Marketing to Millennials

On top of all this, it’s far from the first time that Shell has aimed its greenwashing directly at millennials.

The “Best Day of My Life” video — which features popular artists including Jennifer Hudson, Luan Santana, Pixie Lott, Yemi Alade, Tan Weiwei and Steve Aoki — is aimed at young people from around the world.

It’s part of a wider strategy Shell has to convince millennials the firm is on a low-emissions path. It’s a rather cynical ploy considering that young people are going to feel the effects of climate change impacts more than older generations, and are going to be the ones left holding the baby.

The “Best Day of My Life” is part of a broader greenwashing campaign called #makethefuture. The wider campaign has its own YouTube channel boasting 55,000 subscribers.

Shell’s Instagram, which has 117k followers, has been taken over by images from #makethefuture events from Rio to Singapore — ethnically diverse and highlighting its support for energy innovations. Funnily enough no oil rigs in sight for over a year (compare this to BP’s Insta feed, which is at least a bit more honest about what they actually do).

Prior to this, Shell tried to influence this key segment of millennials by trying to commission a Vice-style video; by putting out a video suggesting renewables are unreliable in the style of New Wave cinema; and another one in which Shell shows how cool natural gas is with the help of two vegan girls. 

Updated: 19/04/2017: The statistics in the third paragraph were corrected.

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