Harry Dromey, Paddy Power's 'mischief champion', explains why its controversial Amazon rainforest stunt is win-win for the brand and a worthy cause.
At Paddy Power, we love a bit of mischief. It gets punters talking about our brand and helps us stand out from the crowd. With an event as big as the World Cup coming up, we thought it would be rude not to make a splash.
With all eyes on the World Cup but little to talk about except some fairly mundane friendlies, we stepped up to fill the news vacuum.
First came our collaboration with Professor Stephen Hawking. One of the most intelligent men in the world used maths to answer some of the meatiest questions tormenting football fans. #HawkingTalking trended on Twitter and our story appeared as a page lead in every national newspaper (online and print). We even appeared on Newsnight where there was a three minute branded slot about the research.
The mischief with the Amazon was a very different beast. Pretending to carve "C’MON ENGLAND" into The Lungs of the World got the enormous reaction we expected.
Key to the enormous outrage was people believing the images were real. Our media partners Sabotage Times used their extensive black book to ‘leak’ this out there for us. Smoke & Mirrors did such a great job making the pictures plausible that even when the geeks on Reddit analysed them, the unanimous verdict was they were real.
Suck up the abuse
We woke up on Saturday to the brand trending on Twitter, getting the sort of abuse that Malcolm Tucker would blush at. Even one of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings waded in to call us "brainless wankers".
We knew that we had to suck up the abuse so this could grow into a story. In fact, our in house team of Twitter genii fuelled the fire targeting people with notable Twitter followings with stuff like "don’t get your hemp knickers in a twist" and "we haven’t cut down that much". The hatred peaked as England kicked off against Honduras in Miami.
The reveal came after 24 hours of this maelstrom. We went out on Facebook, Twitter and sent out a press release to reveal that "WE DIDN’T GIVE THE AMAZON A BRAZILIAN" and that the stunt was in fact to raise awareness about deforestation in the Amazon.
Both Paddy Power and #SaveTheRainforest starting trending on Twitter as vitriol turned to laughs and even a little praise. Over 160k people visited our blog in 24 hours where we explained what we had been up to in our own words.
We certainly don’t want to become the Bono of bookmakers but there is no harm in every so often using our profile not only to bring a bit of excitement to life but to support a good cause.
This article was first published on