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07th Jun 2018

Paddy Power video of polar bear being spray-painted revealed as hoax

James Dawson

It was all a ruse

Paddy Power has revealed that its controversial World Cup campaign video featuring a polar bear being spray-painted with the St George’s Cross was a hoax.

Earlier in the week, the bookmaker attracted widespread criticism after taking a frontpage advert out in the Metro showing the graffitied animal, captioned “England ’till I dye”, following a video leaking on Sunday showing a pair of apparent Russians performing the stunt.

It received a vitriolic response online, with users branding it “idiotic”, “sickening”, and “the worst thing to happen to the world since Hitler”.

However, true to form for the bookies, the entire thing has now been revealed as banter coordinated with non-for-profit organisation Polar Bears International (PBI), to raise awareness of the endangered animal’s plight in the Russian Arctic.

A Paddy Power spokesperson said: “We are sorry that you were upset by the image.

“We need more snowflakes like you guys in the world – albeit in the Russian Arctic rather than on Twitter.”

If you’re wondering how they went about the stunt, although they did film a real bear on set in Canada, they then used special effect wizardry to pretend to graffiti a polar bear.

The spokesperson added: “Were we trying to get your attention? Yes, of course – but it wasn’t just for you to know what price England are to lose on penalties this summer.

“We wanted to raise awareness of a Russian issue which often gets brushed under the fur rug when compared with all the others wrongs of that nation: the plight of polar bears, who are about as welcome in the Russian Arctic as an English fan in Moscow this summer.”

A large number of the world’s polar bears live in the Russian Arctic, which is vulnerable to destructive drilling, as the area boasts up to £26million of untapped oil.

The bookmaker is now funding two ground-breaking research projects for scientists to investigate the black hole in their knowledge around Russian polar bears and their wellbeing.