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Oil giant Shell hit with 'Arctic Ready' online hoax

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Shell caption competition entries
Environmental campaigners have taken the fight to Shell with an online hoax designed to look like a disastrous PR campaign from the oil giant.

A website popped up this week bearing the headline, Arctic Ready, and supposedly intended to promote Shell's new Arctic energy production initiative.

Bearing the slogan 'Let's Go', the fake campaign had a rather basic but reasonably convincing website featuring the Royal Dutch Shell logo.

The blurb says: "Here at Shell, we're committed to online social media. After all, it's the fuel that lubricates the engines of internet communication.

"In June, thousands of you demonstrated this by explaining, online, how Arctic energy production will transform the world and possibly provide affordable fuel for several years.

"We want to take the Arctic Ready message offline, directly to the drivers who benefit from Shell's performance fuels."

Users were invited to add their own slogan to a "beautiful new collection of images" on the site, with the promise of potentially getting their suggestion used for a Shell poster ad campaign at "strategic locations worldwide".

It at first appeared as though the competition had been hijacked by anti-Shell activists, who had posted a string of acerbic messages next to the images of Arctic scenes.

For example, a picture of an Arctic bid was linked to the slogan: "Birds are like sponges... for oil."

An oil platform picture bore the legend, "Turn the power on, it's time to melt some ice", while an image of melting ice came with the message: "Some say catastrophe, we say opportunity.".

Shell caption competition entries


The campaign was backed up by a Twitter account marked Shell Social Media (@ShellisPrepared), which posted a string of messages urging people to "stop sharing ads that could damage our company", and insisting that its team was "working overtime to remove libellous ads".

But it was all a hoax, thought to have been organised by the Yes Men, a group of corporate pranksters who mastermind campaigns aimed at humiliating major corporations.

Shell is not the first oil company to attract the group's attention, as in 2007 the Yes Men pretended to be two representatives from ExxonMobil at a gas and oil explosion in Calgary.

The group was eventually unmasked after they started handing out candles supposedly made from the remains of Reggie Watts, a deceased janitor who had worked for ExxonMobil.

Royal Dutch Shell has not yet commented on the hoax campaign against its Arctic expedition, despite the Yes Men using its trademarked logo on the fake website.

Separately, the oil giant has today suffered the embarrassment that one of the ships used to drill in the Arctic has slipped its mooring and drifted dangerously close to Alaska's Aleutian Islands, reports CNN.

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