Shell reprimanded for misleading advertising targeting children

The Dutch Advertising Code Commission has reprimanded Shell for misleading children between the ages of 8 and 14 with advertising at the company’s annual Generation Discover children’s festival in Den Hague.

Last year during Shell’s festival, the company placed a 2×2 meter sign in the center of the festival grounds which stated that its Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) technology contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 for sustainable energy. Shell further praised GTL as a cleaner diesel alternative which “leads to an improvement of air quality…which is pleasant if you are riding your bike behind a truck or enjoying the view from a Ferris wheel!” The Board of Appeals ruled that this claim is misleading.

The Board holds, “On the whole, GTL cannot be viewed as a fuel that is cleaner than diesel.” The Board also rejects Shell’s UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 claim, stating, “The Board judges that it is not proper to present GTL fuel as a form of cleaner and more sustainable energy within the framework of this goal.”

Fossil Free Education and the Public Interest Litigation Project (PILP) of the Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) filed the complaint against Shell. Proponents call the ruling “an important victory for Fossil Free Education, which fights against misleading educational material of fossil industries in schools.”

Generation Discover is Shell’s annual festival which targets young people, who often attend through school field trips. The festival highlights “clean energy” and “the future,” but Fossil Free Education accuses Shell of “greenwashing” and “false marketing to children.” The children’s festival has also received criticism for mandating a confidentiality agreement for its child attendees.

In an official Title of Judgement regarding the mogul’s 2018 GTL claims, the Board “recommends that Shell no longer advertise in such a way.”


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