Shell Regrets Social Media Campaign

In a creative, but failed attempt to encourage public contribution to its marketing efforts, Shell asked people to submit their own memes. Shell was perhaps naive in thinking that people would support its positive thinking about the company's contribution to the environment.

The campaign around the "Let's Go" slogan brought a mockery of images with captions such as "Because there are still places we haven't f'ked. Let's Drill" and "Proudly plundering and destroying environments for almost 200 years."

Shell memeAt least Shell hasn't hidden from the reaction. On its site, the company has posted the memes and made this statement:

"We at Shell are committed to providing consumers with clean and abundant Arctic energy. We're also committed to the open exchange of ideas and the wonder of human creativity which makes our job possible.

"It is in this spirit that we approached the exciting untapped resource of socialized media with our Let's Go! Arctic user-generated advertising technology. While we do realize that a very small portion of the user-generated content below does not accurately represent Shell's commitment to providing consumers with clean and abundant Arctic energy, this pioneering experiment in user-generated content does reflect our commitment to freedom.

"Shell remains proud of our commitment to freedom. The freedom to develop newly available and abundant Arctic energy reserves. And the freedom our consumers have to discount the work of a very small number of extremist individuals who remain determined to stand in the way of our quest to bring first class heritage technology to bear on the top of the world. We thank you for sharing in our commitment to freedom.

"And thank you for contributing to our Let's Go! Arctic campaign."

Discussion Starters:

  • Should Shell have avoided the campaign entirely, knowing that this could be the result-or was this an unintended, unpredictable result?
  • How do you assess Shell's reaction-its statement on the website? What else, if anything, should Shell say about the memes received?