Paddy Power shaves the rainforest

11 June 2014 | Lloyd Hughes

I probably give Paddy Power too much blog time, but its been going into overdrive recently so it’s hard to resist.

With the World Cup starting this week (anticipation: fever pitch!) the bookmaker has completely thrown environmental conservation to the Amazonian winds with its latest stunt offering.

In honour of England’s first game at the cusp of the South American rainforest in tropical Manaus, PP opted to carve down a vast swathe of Eocene woodland to show support for the Three Lions.

‘Employing’ lumberjacks to hack out a message reading ‘C’mon England, PP’ in the broadleaf trees, the bookies caused Twitter outrage as an image of the sylvan slaughter was leaked via Reddit and other social platforms.

The apparent photograph seemed to demonstrate a breathtakingly callous disregard for the Lungs of the World in the name of a crass PR stunt. Cue vitriolic online abuse and eye-poppingly incandescent rage directed at the Irish enterprise.

Paddy Power weathered the eco-storm and even fanned the forest fire flames for 24 hours before publishing a blog, which revealed that, despite it being a PR stunt, no trees had been harmed in the making of this picture.

Employing tech wizards to go into an astonishing level of detail (no simple photoshop job this) the PP pranksters fooled the majority of the Twitterati with an incredibly authentic image. I’m sure many online eco-warrior conspiracy theorists would have accused Paddy Power of a face-saving, back tracking cover-up and demanded to visit the spot in question to prove that the stunt hadn’t actually occurred, if the bookmaker hadn’t produced an image of the exact same bit of forest with the message ‘We didn’t give the Amazon a Brazilian’.

PP attached the hashtag ‘#shavetherainforest’ to the act, which they later argued was all part of its anti-deforestation campaign and the whole thing (whilst a publicity stunt) was mainly in the interest of highlighting a good cause. Lets wait and see if it donates a rainforest-sized chunk of the PR driven profits rather than simply pointing blog readers to the Greenpeace website. My money’s on this not happening (feel free to tweet me the odds Paddy Power, if you’re reading).

Whilst I don’t have Paddy Power down as a ‘green crusader’ (despite its branding) the opportunity to ‘make mischief’ as it loves to call it associated with raising awareness of a genuine issue is PR gold. Well played again PP, you’ve got balls of solid brass.