Paddy Power World Cup rainforest stunt was faked ‘to raise awareness of deforestation’

Bookmaker received a furious backlash on Twitter over 'disgraceful' stunt - but says images were elaborate computer-generated fakes

When images were leaked online that appeared to show a huge message of support for England football team carved out of the Amazon rainforest by Paddy Power, social media users understandably reacted furiously.

With less than a week to go until England’s first match in the Brazil 2014 World Cup, a number of “photographs” from various angles were linked to on reddit showing the message “C’mon England PP” spelled on in cleared trees.

They were later tweeted via the official Paddy Power Twitter account, along with messages such as “Run, forest run!” and “We're showing our support for Roy's boys!!” – and met with no small amount of abuse.

Yet today the bookmaker announced that the pictures were actually faked as part of a months-long campaign, including the individual computer-generation of almost 1.5 million trees, apparently in a bid “to raise awareness of deforestation”.

Paddy Power said that, according to Greenpeace, an area the size of 122 football pitches is chopped down every 90 minutes, and urged people to join the charity’s movement to save rainforest wildlife.

Before the pictures were revealed to be fake, people commenting online expressed their shock and anger over “the most idiotic PR stunt ever”.

Some, clearly drawn in, speculated that the area of rainforest would have been “scheduled to be cut down anyway”, while others tweeted that it was “disgraceful”, “idiotic” and “disrespectful”.

A statement issued by the bookmaker today 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.  At least it gave people something to get animated about during last night’s England-Honduras bore fest.”

It isn’t the first time Paddy Power has provoked anger with a controversial marketing campaign.

In March it was ruled that an advert offering a “money back if he walks” deal on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial broke rules and brought the UK’s advertising industry into disrepute.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad had amassed 5,525 complaints – a record in Britain, and it was withdrawn after complainants said it trivialised domestic violence towards women and made fun of double amputee Pistorius’ disability.

At the time company defended the reference to Pistorius’ disability on the grounds that it was “subtle”, and a spokesperson told the BBC: “It was one ad in one newspaper on one day. I don't think there's an apology coming - criticise us for bad taste, which is fine.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor