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Polarising Paddy Power

08 June 2018 | Daisy Rickards

This time four years ago Lloyd wrote in a blog, ‘I probably give Paddy Power too much blog time’ and here we are, four years later, talking about the PR wizards yet again - is it boring yet? Of course not!

A lot can happen in four years; One Direction went their separate ways, Leicester City won the Premier League and Donald Trump became president… showing, effectively, anything is possible!

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the ability of Paddy Power’s PR team to cause controversy.

Its latest, rather topical, PR stunt is a mix of usual laddish banter...combined with environmental politics.

Paddy Power decided to paint the town red on Tuesday - quite literally - by leaking ‘live’ footage of a ‘wild’ polar bear being spray-painted with an England flag, by a Russian-speaking (or so it sounded to our Western ears) man.

The PR stunt gained a full page feature in the metro, with the catch line ‘England ‘til I dye’ - get it? The puns didn’t stop there either, with the article, unsurprisingly, riddled with bear puns that explained the cause behind the campaign.

And despite the usual vegan millennials crucifying the brand on social media (can they ever have a laugh?), the bookmakers revealed the ‘good’ intentions behind this campaign, as it revealed it to be a collaboration with NGO Polar Bears International to highlight the current plight of polar bears in the Arctic – which managed to take the sting out of some of the venom thrown its way.

It looks like Paddy Power has decided to make saving the environment a quadrennial occurrence (apparently the term for every four year) by speaking out about climate change in Russia in time for the World Cup, much like they did with the rainforest in Brazil.

If the stunt sounds familiar, it’s because the PR team caused a stir around the same time at the last World Cup in 2014. As we documented on our a blog four years ago, the betting company looked like it had carved the message, ‘C’mon England, PP’, in the South American rainforest four years ago when the tournament was hosted by Brazil. Yet again, it riled up a good number of eco-lovers (rightly so, at first look) before the brand revealed the truth that it was in fact a faked CGI job, with a deeper message behind it.

It turns out the spray paint job was in fact faked (have people not heard of CGI? *knowing hindsight eyeroll*). Although the humorous bunch at Paddy Power love a good laugh (we’d definitely be up for Friday drinks with them), I somehow doubt they’d get the ‘go-ahead’ for painting a living polar bear roaming the Siberian wilderness.

It was, apparently, a captive (‘privately owned’ as they termed it)’ bear used in the footage, with the spray painted flag purely a CGI addition.

PP opted to ‘apologise’, which really turned out to be the opportunity to use a snowflakes gag; a double entendre aimed at both global warming and ‘millennial’ wet lettuces.

Plenty of brands try to team up with charity when promoting their message (with the ultimate aim to raise the brand’s profile), but none create a bigger stir than Paddy Power, which has added yet more polish to its the stunt crown once again.