Update: Wunderman Thompson's spokesperson told Marketing that Shell has paused this campaign.
In celebration of the recent International Women's Day (IWD), Shell changed its logo at one of its petrol stations in San Dimas, California to "She'll" for a day. According to multiple media reports including CBS Los Angeles and Adweek, Shell specifically chose that location as the station was owned and operated by women. The move came as part of Shell's latest initiative, She Will, which hopes to "close the gender gap in engineering and technology through education, engagement and awareness", CBS Los Angeles reported. Meanwhile, images circulating on Twitter showed a gas pump with the word "She'll" on it.
Instead of receiving praises from consumers, Shell's IWD initiative was mocked by unimpressed netizens who said the move had little to do with actually helping women. One netizen sarcastically said Shell has managed to tackle sexism with its latest IWD campaign, while another said she loves "how disproportionately climate change will affect women of colour". Meanwhile, another Twitter user said "We live in s'hell".
Meanwhile, in a tweet that has since been deleted, Sam Gavin, a producer at CBS Los Angeles said: "Shell is becoming She'll for International Women's Day, showing that by just adding an aprostrophe to its name, small gestures can motivate and deliver big messages." The tweet was previously picked up by Mashable.
Other users also took it upon themselves to parody Shell's initial post:
Meanwhile, satirical activist group The Yes Men, made the situation even more confusing by taking credit for Shell's recent IWD activation. In 2010, The Yes Men previously spoofed a Chevron campaign by creating a fake website and press releases, as well as other fake initiatives, reported Adweek.
This time in a tweet, The Yes Men seized the opportunity and claimed the She'll initiative, saying: "OMG, everyone fell for this. Hahaha #yesmenwinagain." However, Adweek reported that the campaign was in fact done by Wunderman Thompson. Marketing has reached out to Shell for comment.
According to the Shell's website, the company has implemented two programmes aimed to empower its female staff. They are the Women’s Career Development Programme and its sister programme Senior Women Connect. These programmes encourages women at the company to form networks and help one another develop their careers, learn leadership qualities and overcome the obstacles they could face in the workplace. The website also dedicated a page to stories featuring stories of its female staff.
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