A film of Lego mini-figures drowning in oil became an online hit when Greenpeace took one of the most successful movies of the year and created its own version in a campaign to Save the Arctic.
Featuring a melancholic version of The Lego Movie’s catchy theme tune, the video was at the heart of Greenpeace’s efforts to persuade Lego to divest from its long partnership with Shell.
Greenpeace has long been protesting against fossil fuel companies and campaigning for the use of more renewable and ‘clean’ energy sources. The organisation recognised the creative communication opportunities the iconic and much loved LEGO brand offered for engaging the public and to target Shell for its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.
The short film marked a departure from Greenpeace traditional tactics. Long known for scaling buildings and unfurling banners Greenpeace has started to adopt more creative communication tactics, with this campaign using a medium that digitally savvy younger audiences relate to and could easily share.
Produced by a creative agency the slick film was distributed through online fan groups. The clip rapidly gained millions of views and according to Greenpeace the social media buzz enabled the organisation to “steer the media narrative without having to convince journalists that it was a cause worth covering”. With millions of public views traditional media then began reporting on the video’s success.
Images of Lego mini-figures staging a series of protests outside Shell garages and international landmarks kept interest alive on social media. The online campaign was supported by a child-led protest outside Shell’s HQ highlighting the emotional link between climate change and future generations.
Over one million people worldwide emailed the toy company to ask it to end its commercial relationship with Shell. Lego announced in October 2014 that it would not renew its 50-year partnership with the oil company. Possibly one of the most high-profile campaigns of all time, a clever use of viral marketing and digital communications brought a fresh approach to a campaign that has been running for many years.