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Wikipedia: 23 March 2020

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23 March 2020 Version

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Type of site
Gripe site
Available in Originates in English; translation available
Owner Alfred and John Donovan
Created by John Donovan
Revenue None
Commercial No
Registration Not required
Launched October 29, 2004[1]
Current status Active is a Royal Dutch Shell gripe site and blog operated by Alfred and John Donovan, who engaged in several marketing campaigns with Shell during the 1980s and early 1990s. The father and son duo believe Shell violated intellectual property agreements and filed several lawsuits against Shell prior to starting several websites critical of Shell, including The site has been oft quoted in news sources and is known for its activities as an Internet leak and forum for Shell whistleblowers.

Website background

The Donovans owned a chain of petrol stations in east London and Essex, for which they created many sales promotion campaigns under their company Don Marketing.[2] In 1981, Don Marketing devised a promotional game scheme for Royal Dutch Shell called “Make Money”.[3][infringing link?] Because the promotion was successful, Don created several other promotional campaigns for Shell,[4][self-published source?] which led in part to Shell being identified as “perhaps the biggest user of games” in 1986.[5][self-published source?]

In 1992 Shell appointed a new National Promotions manager to whom Don’s promotional ideas were disclosed on a confidential basis.[6] In 1994, Don Marketing issued a writ against Shell with respect to a follow-up “Make Money” promotion claiming breach of confidence and breach of contract, which ended in a £60,000 settlement.[7] A second writ was issued concerning a Nintendo promotion that ran in 1993.[8] Shell settled both claims in October 1996.[6] A third lawsuit was processed in 1999; however, the claimant abandoned the claim.[9]

During the course of the litigation, the Donovans founded the “Shell Corporate Conscience Pressure Group”[10][infringing link?] and accompanying gripe site, which Shell UK Media Relations responded to internally in March 1995.[11][infringing link?]

After Don Marketing was dissolved, father and son Alfred and John Donovan created several websites to expose their perceived injustices while working with Shell, one of which is They also operate

While Royal Dutch Shell plc is a trademarked name of the company, the domain name was first registered by Alfred Donovan.[12] It avoids being an illegal cybersquatter as long as it is non-commercial, active, and no attempt is made to sell the domain name, as determined by WIPO proceedings[13] In 2005 Donovan said he would relinquish the site to Shell after it “gets rid of all the management he deems responsible for its various recent woes.”[14]

Reaction to site

Internet leak

The site has been recognized by several media outlets for its role as an Internet leak. In 2008 the Financial Times published an article based on a letter published by,[15][infringing link?] which Reuters and The Times also covered shortly thereafter.[16][infringing link?] [17][infringing link?] The site has also been cited several other times by the aforementioned news sources as well as others.

On October 18, 2006, the site published an article stating that Shell had for some time been supplying information to the Russian government relating to Sakhalin II.[18] The Russian energy company Gazprom subsequently obtained a 50% stake in the Sakhalin-II project.[19]

Other instances where the site has acted as an Internet leak include a 2007 IT outsourcing plan,[20] as well as a 2008 internal memo where CEO Jeroen van der Veer expressed disappointment in the company’s share-price performance.[21][infringing link?]


The gripe site has been recognized as a source of information regarding Shell by several news sources. In the 2006 Fortune Global 500 rankings, in which Royal Dutch Shell placed third, was listed alongside as a source of information.[22] In 2007 the site was described as “a hub for activists and disgruntled former employees.”[2] A 2009 article called “the world’s most effective adversarial Web site.”[23] The site has been described as “an open wound for Shell.”[18]


  1. Jump up to:a b “ Site Info”Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  2. Jump up to:a b Garside, Juliette (2007-09-10). “Online Revolutionaries”The Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  3. ^ “What About the Tiger Tails?” (PDF). Incentive Marketing and Sales Promotion Magazine. 1984-03-01. Retrieved 2009-05-02 – via has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  4. ^ Donovan, John. “The Shell Success Story” Retrieved 2009-05-02. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  5. ^ Donovan, John. “Games People Play” Retrieved 2009-05-02. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  6. Jump up to:a b O’Sullivan, Tom (1998-04-23). “High Court papers unveil ‘secret’ Shell writ losses” (PDF)Marketing Week. Retrieved 2009-05-14 – via
  7. ^ Rines, Simon (1999-06-06). “Donovan takes Smart case against Shell to court” (PDF)Sunday Business. Retrieved 2009-05-14 – via
  8. ^ Benady, Alex (1994-10-20). “Shell Struck by Writ” (PDF)Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-02 – via
  9. ^ “Don Marketing Limited –V- Shell UK Limited” 1995-03-17. Retrieved 2009-05-02. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors=(help)
  10. ^ “Pressure group to target Shell” (PDF). Forecourt Trader Magazine. 1995-02-01. Retrieved 2009-06-23 – via
  11. ^ “Don Marketing Limited -v- Shell UK Limited” (PDF). Royal Dutch Shell. 1995-03-17. Retrieved 2009-06-23 – via Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  12. ^ Cummins, Chip (2005-06-02). “Shell Wages Legal Fight Over Web Domain Name” (PDF)The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  13. ^ Gervais, Daniel J (2005-08-08). “WIPO ADMIN PANEL DECISION”World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  14. ^ Walsh, Dominic (2005-08-16). “In a Spin on Report”The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  15. ^ “Shell Pension Scheme Value Falls 40%” (PDF)Financial Times. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-05-02 – via
  16. ^ “Shell’s Pension Underfunded, Contributions Rise” (PDF)Reuters. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2009-05-02 – via
  17. ^ “HSBC Hit by Fear Factor as Downturn Spreads to Asia” (PDF)Reuters. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2009-05-02 – via
  18. Jump up to:a b Brower, Derek (2007-02-01). “Rise of the Gripe Site”Prospect. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  19. ^ Macalister, Terry (2007-04-19). “Thin Smile from Shell as it Sells Sakhalin Stake”The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  20. ^ Bergin, Tom (2007-12-21). “Shell to Cut Thousands of IT Jobs”Reuters. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  21. ^ “Shell Addresses Output Issue”The Wall Street Journal. 1984-03-01. Retrieved 2008-03-18 – via
  22. ^ “Executive Bookmark”Fortune. 2006-07-24. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  23. ^ Eringer, Robert (2007-09-10). “Gripe Sites are All the Rage Now” (PDF)Santa Barbara News-Press. Retrieved 2009-05-04 – via Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)

External links


This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

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