The pranksters set up a website imitating Shell's, encouraging people to submit their suggestions for a "crowdsourced ad campaign" promoting drilling in the Arctic.
Greenpeace released a statement taking credit for the campaign.
"With help from the Yes Lab we built a special Arctic Ready website for Shell, which houses our new advertisements, plus a tool for you to create your own," the statement says. "Take a moment to choose a picture and add your own message – there are some great ones up already. We’ve even built a charming kids’ game – Angry Bergs – to keep the littl’uns happy. Watch the dollars flood in as you protect your oil platform from those pesky natural hazards. Unsinkable."
In response, Shell has vehemently denied any involvement in the campaign or the viral #ShellFail video.
"Journalists, blog readers and YouTube viewers have recently been targeted with scams launched by organizations opposed to energy exploration in Alaska," a statement released by the company states. "A contest on a mock Shell website promotes the creation of fake advertisements. A video purports to show a bungled corporate PR event at the Seattle Space Needle. And a false press release claimed that the company is considering legal action against the scam campaign."
"Just in case there is any remaining doubt, Shell did not host, nor participate in an event at the Space Needle. The video does not involve Shell or any of its employees. The advertising contest is not associated with Shell, and neither is the site it’s on. And Shell did not file legal action in this matter. Our focus is on safely executing our operations."
Shell has also created a fact site defending its Alaska drilling against critics' concerns.
Oil companies aren't terribly popular these days. Just ask BP, who is still desperately trying to recover public goodwill after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now Shell is trying to get hip to social media, which resulted in a spectacularly misguided attempt to crowdsource its next offline advertising campaign. Shell posted an ad generator on their website, offering people the opportunity to write captions promoting "Arctic ready" drilling on a series of nature-y photos of polar bears, narwhals and other icy shots.
"Here at Shell, we’re committed to online social media. After all, it’s the fuel that lubricates the engines of internet communication," the company said, explaining.
"Today, we want to take the Arctic Ready message offline, directly to the drivers who benefit from Shell’s performance fuels. That's why we're launching a new campaign (deadline this Thursday!), from which the best ads will be printed and posted in strategic locations worldwide. With your help, we at Shell can tell the world how pumped we are about Arctic energy, and take the Arctic Ready message to Arctic-enthused drivers everywhere."
Instead of getting a bunch of pro-energy tag lines, the campaign got a bunch of spectacularly snarky responses.
Check out the slideshow, above, of some of our favorites.
Just around noon on Tuesday, it seems Shell wised up to the trolling, and has taken down the ad generator: