At first glance, it seemed like Shell Oil had set themselves up for some pretty epic trolling.

The company had launched a new online feature in which Web users got to choose the tagline for their “Arctic Ready” ad campaign. But instead of copy that would make the public support Arctic drilling all of the suggestions made sarcastic reference to the downside of the practice. For example, a submission read “You can’t run your SUV on cute” with a picture of a wolf cub in the background.

News organizations like UPI treated the ad generator as real, and reported that Shell pulled it after only getting snarky responses.

But it turns out Shell never pulled the generator because they never put it up in the first place. Instead, the entire website was an elaborate prank by the environmental group Greenpeace, who wanted to voice their objection to Shell’s push to drill for oil in protected Arctic lands.

In fact, it was the second successful media prank Greenpeace has pulled on Shell this summer. Back in June a video of a Shell Arctic launch party in which a small replica oil rig unintentionally exploded, spraying alcohol on the guests, hit the internet. While critics of Shell’s drilling policies certainly had a good laugh about the inopportune visual, it turned out it was also too good to be true, and the oil executives and guests in the video were actors who were working with Greenpeace.

We’re not sure who should be more bothered by Greenpeace’s pranks — Shell or the media which keeps falling for them.

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