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Guerrilla Billboard War Against Shell

Early morning commuters may have noticed a strange billboard on I-45 heading south into downtown. The billboard showed two polar bears napping on the ice with a Shell logo and slogan. It wasn't Shell's handiwork at all.

The billboard was gone by lunchtime, but early today folks on Twitter were buzzing about the ad campaign featuring fuzzy, adorable polar bears.

The sign said “You can’t run your SUV on cute” with a Shell symbol and the slogan “Let’s Go.”

To the casual observer, it looked a lot like Shell’s current “Let’s Go” ad campaign.

But the group actually behind this morning’s spectacle is Greenpeace.

“We are poking fun at Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic.”

That’s Travis Nichols, a media spokesman for Greenpeace USA. He says they strategically placed the billboard at the junction of I-45 and I-10, where people heading to work at Shell Plaza would be likely to see it.

“We hope that it’s something that people do pause and take a second look at and think ‘is this a sacrifice we want to make, is this the road we want to go down?’.”

Shell got broad approval from the Interior Department for ten wells in the Arctic along Alaska’s northern coast. But drilling each of those wells pends approval from the Obama Administration.

Shell Spokesperson Kelly op de Weegh says the company is focused on drilling responsibly.

“We’re aware it’s a very sensitive environment. It’s also some of the lesser complex wells that we’ve ever drilled, if you think about what the industry and Shell has accomplished over decades in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, for example, with really high pressure wells. These exploration wells offshore Alaska will not go into production this summer and they are in shallow water and low pressure.”

As to whether Shell will take any legal action against Greenpeace over the guerrilla ad campaign, op de Weegh says the company has no comment at this time.

For more information, visit the real Shell Arctic campaign and the Greenpeace spoof version.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

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Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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