Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Guardian author Graham Readfearn is worried green Millennials will fall for a bunch of big oil PR tricks.
Hey millennials, don’t fall for Shell’s pop star PR
Shell is lining up superstars to sing in videos about solar panels, hydrogen cars, clean cooking stoves and lights powered by a bag of rocks and gravity
If you’re a millennial, the global oil and gas company Shell will have been most pleased if you’d seen one their #makethefuture music videos.
Twice now Shell has lined up superstars including Jennifer Hudson, Pixie Lott and Yemi Alade to sing about solar panels, hydrogen cars, clean cooking stoves and lights powered by a bag of rocks and gravity.
In 2016, Shell even flew three of the stars to the Rio Di Janeiro favela of Santa Marta to put on a concert.
Shell has said the first video – Best Day of My Life – was watched “more than 800m times”. The second video, On Top of the World, was as sickly sweet as the first and has racked up 19m views on YouTube since it was released in December 2017.
Why pick Santa Marta? As Shell itself explained, it is “one of Rio’s most headline-grabbing favelas” and it’s where they chose to help a winner of one of their entrepreneur awardsput up some solar panels.
But back to #makeithappen and Shell’s other “challenge” – its need to keep young people on side.
In advertising and marketing industry publication Campaign, Shell’s “head of integrated brand communications”, Malena Cutuli, spelled it out.
“It’s no secret that Shell’s own macro challenge is particularly tough, so amidst deep cynicism and complexity, we needed to develop a disruptive approach to engage young people in our new energies mission,” she said.
A sample of the Shell pop star campaign;
This was always going to be a problem for the green movement. Now that green narratives are part of the establishment, I mean how many kids truly want to be part of the establishment? How embarrassing must it be to join a green protest, only to discover your parents are camping in the tent next to yours?
Hanging out with big oil means excitement, pop music, cheap booze, parties, and privacy – no true believer green parent would go within five miles of an event sponsored by a big oil company, even if the event notionally celebrates the green initiatives of said oil company.