Mark Raven

Europe Communications Coordinator,, +44 784 147 4125 (UK)

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October 30, 2019

Shell reprimanded for misleading advertising aimed at children

The Hague, Netherlands — The Dutch Advertising Code Commission reprimanded Shell on appeal for its misleading advertising at Shell’s Generation Discover 2018 children’s festival.

The Board of Appeals ruled that Shell misled children between the ages of 8 and 14 by suggesting its Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) technology would contribute to a better environment and to attaining UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Board strongly recommended that Shell “no longer make advertisement campaigns in this manner.”

The complaint was filed by Fossil Free Education and the Public Interest Litigation Project (PILP) of the Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM).

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be misused to advertise fossil fuels,” according to Daun Hwang, a lawyer at PILP-NJCM. “We are happy that Shell is not getting away with this.”

This ruling is an important victory for Fossil Free Education, which fights against misleading educational material of fossil industries in schools.

“GTL is a fossil fuel and can therefore never be sustainable. The Dutch Advertising Code Commission has punished Shell for its greenwashing and false marketing to children,” says Femke Sleegers of Fossil Free Education.

The misleading advertising of Shell for GTL was presented on a large 2 by 2 meter sign in the middle of the Generation Discover 2018 festival grounds. The sign stated that GTL contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 for sustainable energy. Furthermore, Shell praised GTL as a cleaner alternative to diesel that “leads to an improvement of air quality in the area where GTL is used, which is pleasant if you are riding your bike behind a truck of enjoying the view from a Ferris wheel!” The Board of Appeals ruled that this is misleading.

“On the whole, GTL cannot be viewed as a fuel that is cleaner than diesel,” according to the Board. Regarding Shell’s claim that GTL contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7, the Board stated: “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.”

Generation Discover is an annual festival organised by Shell that targets children between the ages of 8 and 14. Children often attend this festival on a school trip. The festival focuses on the “future” and “clean energy.” That is greenwashing and false marketing to children, according to Fossil Free Education: “Shell wants to take 38% more oil and gas out of the ground in 2030. Shell does not have any plans to cut down on fossil fuels.”

Festival Generation Discover is part of the worldwide Shell marketing campaign aimed at youngsters, called Make the Future.


Note to editors

For more information, please contact:

Fossil Free Education (Fossielvrij Onderwijs) Femke Sleegers – +31 6 224 08 578 –

PILP NJCM – Daun Hwang – +31 6 244 55 458 –

Photo: Olga Roszkowska / Protest against Shell “greenwashing” Festival Generation Discover 2019 in Rotterdam, AHOY

Brief history of the controversial Generation Discover festival

Generation Discover took place on the Malieveld in The Hague for its first three years. Under pressure from the public, the municipality of The Hague withdrew its partnership with Shell’s festival and put a premature stop to the 100,000 EUR subsidy that had been granted to Shell for  3 years.

The board of the large Christian elementary school association in The Hague also distanced itself publicly from the festival.

The festival was strongly criticized in 2017 because of a puzzle for children in which the mix of energy in 2050 would, according to Shell, still consist of  70-75% coal, oil and gas.

In 2018 it was also made known that Shell had children sign a “gag order” in which they waived their rights to their images.

Shell announced that the festival would travel. A majority in the Amsterdam city council made it clear to Shell that the festival was not welcome in the capital.

Generation Discover took place in Rotterdam this fall in the AHOY. The location of the 2020 festival is not yet known.

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