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Shell’s Newest Genius Plan: Fuelling Digital Dreams in Fortnite, Because Why Not?

“Nice try, Shell. We’re on to you.”

Posted by John Donovan: 6 October 2023

In what appears to be a “stellar” masterstroke of marketing, the always-environmentally-aware oil giant Shell, which casually announced a quarterly profit of over $5bn, has collaborated with Fortnite creators. Their brilliant move? Paying gamers to pedal their new gasoline, V-Power Nitro+, under the guise of “ultimate road trips”. Ah, nothing says ‘thinking about the youth’s future’ quite like promoting fossil fuels in a virtual realm.

Media Matters for America, ever the party-poopers, claim Shell is luring the young and impressionable on platforms like Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. The objective? To motivate them to digitally fuel up at Shell’s wonderfully pixelated gas stations and then flaunt their gaming experiences with a #Shellroadtrips hashtag. Clever? Maybe. Ethical? We’ll let you decide.

Some eagle-eyed number crunchers at the non-profit group unveiled that Shell had sponsored Twitch livestreams of some pretty big names, reaching an audience of millions. But hey, why stop at Twitch? Media Matters also spotted influencers across platforms, from Instagram to YouTube, being paid to amplify the campaign. With influencers reaching tens of millions of combined followers, who needs traditional advertising?

Quoting a single promotion from YouTube influencer Chica, the campaign boasted a reach of nearly 1.74 million innocent souls in one go.

Allison Fisher from Media Matters perfectly captured the sentiment, “Shell’s marketing to young people is just another testament to big oil’s heartwarming tradition of placing profits above trivial things like… oh, the planet.” A study she cited highlighted the ‘inconvenient’ fact that 75% of young people across 10 countries are genuinely terrified of the looming climate catastrophe.

Aru Shiney-Ajay, the outspoken executive director of the advocacy group Sunrise Movement, channeled the collective sentiment of Gen Z: “Nice try, Shell. We’re on to you.” She aptly pointed out the transparent desperation in Shell’s moves, noting, “Gen Z isn’t buying what you’re selling. Literally.

Shell’s CEO, Wael Sawan, had earlier expressed that reducing fossil fuel production would be a tad “dangerous and irresponsible”. We guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

Oh, and this isn’t Shell’s first rodeo in the gaming world. Back in 2019, they proudly sponsored the League of Legends European championships. They even sponsored students in Singapore to develop a game on road safety. Because nothing says road safety quite like promoting fossil fuels, right?

While the gaming industry itself isn’t spotless when it comes to environmental concerns, it’s fascinating to see how Shell and its peers are fervently trying to court a younger clientele. As Media Matters analyst Ilana Berger points out, industry groups are working hard to “humanize” their products, conveniently sidestepping the teeny-tiny detail that these products are, well, ruining the planet.

Shell, by all means, if there’s a factual inaccuracy in the above article or if you’d like to share your ‘visionary’ perspective, the floor is yours.

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