By John Donovan
Royal Dutch Shell has suffered a string of PR debacles.
In October 2013, Shell Out Sounds, a group of singers, musicians and activists who opposed Shell’s sponsorship of Southbank Centre, staged an unsanctioned performance from the Royal Festival Hall’s choir seats in protest of a Shell Classic International concert.
The campaigners condemned the so-called ‘oil-branded concerts’ and condemned Shell for its record of environmental damage.
The venue dropped Shell: “Campaigners celebrate end of Shell’s Southbank sponsorship”
This was followed by a further PR set back in August of this year when “Shell to Sea” campaigners in Ireland mounted a public protest about Shell’s sponsorship of the largest traditional Irish music Festival, “Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.”
Within days, the Irish Times published an article reporting that “The organisers of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann have bowed to pressure and rejected sponsorship of the annual traditional music festival by oil giant, Shell.”
A few days ago, the official media launch of the National Gallery’s Shell-sponsored Rembrandt exhibition was interrupted by an unexpected musical protest. Ten performers launched into an energetic reworked musical version of “Dr Faustus” in front of surprised journalists, staff and gallery-goers.
At one point in the song, the narrator sang:
Museum man, he bought their plan / To sell his staff, to private hands
Make deals with corporate monsters / Like Shell the oily sponsor
Security guards attempted to stop the singers but could not prevent the performance from happening. The performance finished with the singers symbolically casting the oily Shell-devil from the building.
The campaigners protest included targeting Shell’s tar sands operation in Canada.
A link to the full article, from which some of the above extracts are taken, is provided below.
The article mentions the recent success of the Greenpeace campaign against Shell’s Arctic plans, resulting in Lego dropping Shell as a sponsor.