Some young environmental activists, pretending to be scientists, on Wednesday pulled off a creative and subversive prank on Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, in Berlin to demand cleaner business practices in Nigeria and elsewhere.
The group, Peng! Collective, pretended to be scientists who had created a machine to reduce carbon dioxide only to turn around to expose Shell for the "evil" spills they cause in Nigeria. They also asked the oil company to stop drilling plans in the Arctic.
Every day in Nigeria, approximately 350,000 litres of oil are spilled, destroying the livelihood of much of the population. Shell pays off warlords and corrupt governments to continue drilling there," the group said on a website it made for the campaign.
"They [Shell] consciously create socio-ecological damage and show no real commitment to changing this (... ). It is about time this company started taking responsibility for its actions."
Shell had called for a Science Slam event, where they hoped young scientist would present creative ideas on renewable energy. But what Shell got from the activists was a direct opposite of the public relations it intended as the group hijacked the show, messed up the venue - but cleaned it up later - and made a viral video off it.
Peng! Collectives, which appears to specialise in pranking big businesses it suspects indulge in dirty deals, accused Shell of running the worldwide biggest producer of carbon dioxide and other chemicals damaging the world's climate, and yet pretending to care with events like the hijacked science Slam.
"In Europe, it tries to divert attention from the harm it causes elsewhere, producing campaigns like the "Eco Marathon," the group said.
"They work hard to make it look like they care about the impact of their endless quest for oil, distracting the public with showy PR events like the Science Slam. This is called Greenwashing. It is the opposite of responsibility. Taking actual responsibility would be Shell cleaning up its mess and taking action to prevent further damage. Taking responsibility would mean not fulfilling plans to drill in the Arctic."
The video starts off like a science demonstration. Setup was smooth, machine mounted and all connections plugged. But, boom! the machine began spilling liquid that appeared to be crude oil profusely on the two young "scientists" presenting, and the podium. Soon, the spill was stopped, and the campaigners unveiled their motives.
The group spoke in German in the video, but their action managed to pass their message and is currently generating an online buzz.