Kids today only care about online free-to-play shooter Fortnite. They don’t even talk about how great gasoline is! Luckily for us, one large oil company wants to change that using Fortnite, TikTok stars, and Twitch streamers. Welcome to Hell.
Climate change is bad. I think we can all agree on that. But for kids, who have long lives and futures ahead of them, the prospect of the planet turning into a nightmare sphere of extreme weather and chaos is particularly scary. But don’t worry about all that, kids. Instead, Shell—a massive oil company and one of the many entities directly responsible for destroying our planet—wants you all to know just how rad its fossil fuel products are, and even made a whole Fortnite world for you to enjoy! But to truly enjoy it, you’ll need to use Shell’s V-Power® NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline, of course.
As reported by Media Matters earlier this week, Shell has partnered with map creators to develop “Shell Ultimate Road Trips”, a Fortnite world featuring six different areas to explore in the car of your choice. In the middle of these worlds, players will find a lonely, sad-looking Shell gas station acting as the map’s hub.
The campaign—part of Shell’s pivot back to focusing on gasoline over cleaner energy sources— is designed to promote the company’s “new and improved” premium gasoline. The idea is that in the map, players will need to occasionally fill up at the central Shell gas station and use its new V-Power NiTRO+ fuel to successfully navigate obstacles and courses.
Content creators are being enlisted to create big oil propaganda
To help promote this terrible collaboration, Shell has enlisted various TikTok creators and Twitch streamers in an effort to connect with their large audiences made up of mostly younger individuals.
Media Matters reportedly identified at least a half dozen streamers—including folks like Punisher, NateHill, Chica, and brookeab—with a combined Twitch following of over 5.5 million subscribers—who helped promote Shell’s Fortnite map and fossil fuel products during sponsored streams that racked up over a million views. Some of these creators also promoted the sponsored streams on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to their millions of followers. Media Matters also identified three content creators who advertised the ShellxFortnite map in several videos posted on the gas company’s official YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts.
The creators directly promoting Shell’s gasoline propaganda have a combined audience of 8.5 million TikTok followers, 1.5 million Instagram followers, and over 11 million YouTube subscribers.
In August, Shell even paid out for a sponsored post on IGN as well as a three-part series featuring IGN staff playing Fortnite and exploring the Shell-sponsored map. The videos are covered in Shell logos and featured on a fancy IGN-hosted website dedicated to the oil company’s Fortnite map.
Kids aren’t buying this crap
So how’s all this money and effort paying off? As far as I can tell, not great. For example, looking at that IGN article, it’s got only two comments and both are negative. On YouTube, the IGN videos have mostly received negative comments from viewers, with many calling out the outlet for sponsoring an oil company. Elsewhere, the official trailers put out by Shell for their Fortnite creation are similarly receiving negative comments.
“Drop in this season and complete the objective: ‘Do irreparable damage to the environment with Shell!” is the top-rated comment on this trailer for the map.
This is all part of an ongoing campaign by big oil companies, like Shell, to connect with younger people via online influencers and content creators. In 2021, Earther reported that Shell and Phillips 66 had started campaigns with Instagram influencers. These sponsored deals and ads aren’t just about promoting oil companies and their products. These large corporations know that as climate change gets worse, it’s getting harder to convince young people to keep buying gas-powered cars and supporting the fossil fuel industry.
As Media Matters pointed out, in a 2021 survey of young people between the ages of 16-25, about 75% said the future is frightening because of climate change. It’s hard to sell gasoline and diesel to teens who know it’s destroying the planet and their futures. And it doesn’t look like some Instagram models and Fortnite videos on IGN promoting Shell are going to be enough to change their minds.