Shellfail hoaxers send hoax legal threat. I fall for it.

Update: [5 minutes later]

OK, wait a second. It's a hoax.

Wainwright and Shore, the "PR Agency" that sent out this email, has only had a domain for a month. They've got virtually no Google footprint (just an Eventbrite listing for the hoax Shell event). The people who answer the phones are super-evasive.

Derp. I've been had.

Shell's PR department just sent me this:

Lawyers operating on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell plc. (Shell) are considering formal action against unknown activists who staged a counterfeit campaign launch event at the Seattle Space Needle.

The groups released a stream of social media content, with the defamatory hashtag #shellfail, which deliberately misrepresents the safety of Shell's drill rigs heading to the Arctic, and extensively violated Shell's intellectual property rights.

Shell is monitoring the spread of potentially defamatory material on the internet and reporters are advised to avoid publishing such material.

Yes, really. Shell is sending journalists emails containing veiled legal threats in case they should dare to report on a hashtag.

Be sure to check out the ArcticReady site, whose existence I would never have discovered had Shell's PR pros not made a point of telling me about it.

I just called the number in the press release (which also appears on the website of Wainwright and Shore, a PR agency) and confirmed that this was indeed sent on Shell's behalf to journalists.


  1. if no reporters report on it it kinda ensures that people do not hear that it’s a hoax, thereby making it more likely that they believe what they see when they see #shellfail

  2. Again this is where lawyers need to be handcuffed and your publicity department needs to be working.  Instead of releasing that it is a hoax, maybe even spinning it a little they let the lawyers out and it is going to be a bigger issue than it would have been. 

    That being said, there are serious scc issues here.  The organizers could have set up the hoax watch it go viral it then short sold shell on the temporary downturn because the stock tradors are morons.  That is stock manipulation and those people might be prosecutable.

    But threatening the media is never a good idea…. What is it never pick a fight with people who buy ink by barrel.  

  3. AHAHAHAHAHAHA! The chocolate oil geyser shooting all over her! The rich old lady’s turkey-like gobble-shrieks! The pee pee dance! It’s like a horrible B movie comedy! EXCEPT I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHA! 

  4. They must’ve just gotten a new hire; some guy who was just recently let go from Labatt’s brewing.

    1. “…relating to Shell’s oil operations in Ogoniland, an area located in the Niger River delta area of Nigeria.” […] “The action is brought by on behalf of the Estate of Dr. Barinem Kiobel…”

      He’s offered me a share of the settlement if I let him process it through my bank account!

  5. Can’t think of a more sure fired way to get something reported than to tell people not to report on it. I probably would never have seen this story if not for the the lawyers making threats, not to smart on there part.

  6. Breath Cory, relax. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Then turn to Greek and Italian television and wish it could still be that easy here. The scary thing, the really scary thing actually, is that the right wingers and extremists in the English-speaking world are starting to get their shit together. They have learned not to do stupid things like this anymore. They’re getting better at PR. 

    It’s easy to not want that to be true so I can totally understand why you fell for this.

  7. What makes this whole thing so especially funny is how belieavable it all is.

    Nothing is funnier or believable than baby boomers trying to control the Internet.

  8. I have some swamp land to sell you, Cory.  It’s on the moon, but I’ll use zero-point energy to move your thetan into the lunar ether.  It’s a nice place to be ephemeral, but some of the other residents have Morgellon’s disease blocking their Qi.  Wash your feet in holy water before moving in.

  9. Anyone check their sources anymore? once is enough. Having to update twice is just embarrassing. 

  10. Much as I enjoy an easy pounce: admirable admission of derpage, Cory.

    Bookmarked this in the hopes that I can one day show it to a newbie friend who recently got busted for forwarding a classic hoax, and then tried to maintain that she did it on purpose, to make a point!

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