Paddy Power pokes the (polar) bear ahead of Russia 2018

The image of a collapsed polar bear with a St George Cross on its side and the words ‘England till I dye’ took a lot of flak when it appeared wrapping Britain’s Metro newspaper ahead of the football World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Outrage took many forms, from commuters throwing the paper down in disgust on London Tube trains to advertising gurus slamming it as having crossed the line of decency to a social media storm.

Well, then a few days later, it turned out the whole thing was a stunt by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power in collaboration with the conservation organisation Polar Bears International to highlight the plight of polar bears in the Russian Arctic.

Paddy Power has a track record of what it calls ‘mischief’ in its PR and advertising. For the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, it took a similar approach, posting a fake photo with a provocative slogan apparently cut into the rainforest:

In fact, the intention was to highlight the fact that every 90 minutes, an area of the rain forest equivalent to 122 football pitches is cut down. The campaign by Lucky Generals even won the praise of environmental organization Greenpeace, renowned for its own vigorous and eye-catching activities.

What do you think of the polar bear stunt? Right on target or an own goal?

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