Paddy Power posted an image of what appeared to be the Amazon Rainforest with the words ‘C’MON ENGLAND PP’ hacked out of the trees, which later caused chaos and outrage on social media, in particular Twitter. The PR stunt is now being praised by Greenpeace, the well-known environmental activist group that uses similar controversial tactics to get publicity.
People took to Twitter to share their ‘disgusted’ views on the PR stunt that at the time seemed very real and very ‘shameful’. One tweeter saying ‘think your PR person will get sacked in the morning’ (@richbyronbyles), which in fact is the complete opposite of what happened next.
The stunt had many people fooled and gained a lot of publicity from across all platforms, including national publications like the Mirror. Paddy Power reportedly lost hundreds of followers within the following hours of the original photo being released but has seen a larger increase of followers now that truth has come out and they’re actually ‘the good guys’.
Paddy Power let the drama play out for a little while before releasing another photo that showed the original was a fake and it was all a PR stunt to gain awareness of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.
The new photo humorously played with the word ‘Brazilian’ and also showed a green banner at the bottom promoting the statistics of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. The banner was aimed at football fans who otherwise might not be seen as a large market for an environmental campaign.
Paddy Power confessed all in a blog post that stated, “Greenpeace told us that in the Amazon an area the size of 122 football pitches is chopped down every 90 minutes, which is shocking. Paddy Power’s #Shavetherainforest stunt helps to haul this issue into the public light, with our own little mischievous twist.” Greenpeace have said that they had no involvement in the campaign but are praising the stunt by saying, “It’s very reassuring that people were outraged when they thought Paddy Power had destroyed tropical rainforest for advertising – but it’s just as outrageous to chop it down for garden decking or flooring.
“Efforts to help raise awareness of the crisis facing our rainforests are always welcome, and we hope that the World Cup bringing the eyes of the world to Brazil will lead to a lot more attention being paid to this issue.”
A lot of companies are using The World Cup to their advantage and creating campaigns to fit in with the event, however, it’s safe to say the Paddy Power’s stunt may be one of the most memorable. A statement by the creators of the stunt said: “We knew we’d drop off a fair few Christmas card lists yesterday, but we couldn’t resist a bit of fake Twitter mischief to highlight an important issue to football fans as our World Cup warm-up.”
I personally think that the stunt was a brilliant PR tactic. No trees were actually cut down but the campaign generated a lot of publicity and awareness for the issue. Controversial (but legal, I must emphasise) tactics are known for getting people talking and this is a great example of how to do so without actually doing anything wrong. I’m sure the PR pro(s) behind this stunt had a little giggle at some of the reactions.
Quotes and images found here