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NEWS 6 July 2017

Paddy Power under fire after Wimbledon publicity stunt

By Robert Simmons
UK and Irish sports bookmaker Paddy Power has been widely criticised after defacing a 400-year-old fertility symbol in a Wimbledon-themed publicity stunt.

The 180-foot-tall sexually-explicit image depicting a naked man wielding a club on the side of a hill has towered over the quiet Dorset village of Cerne Abbas since the late 17th century.

However in recent days the club has been replaced with a tennis racket & ball, with the ‘PP’ symbol being inserted on the bottom left hand side of the hill, prompting an outcry from the National Trust.

Completed under the cover of darkness on Monday night, the stunt took a six-strong team equipped with night vision goggles just over three hours to complete, using a 255sqm tarpaulin and 250 tent pegs.

The bookmaker have said that the prank was designed to be a celebration of Wimbledon and to commemorate the news that two-time Wimbledon champion and British number one Andy Murray is expecting his second child with wife Kim Sears.

According to local folklore, childless couples who make love on the hillside will be blessed with offspring.

A spokesperson for the National Trust told that “We’re fans of tennis as much as anyone and pleased to hear of Andy Murray’s news, however we do not encourage any defacing of the Cerne Abbas Giant, however it was done.

"The Cerne Abbas Giant is protected… and we are very concerned about any publicity stunt that may in future encourage damage to this fragile site.”

Paddy Power have confirmed that their additions to the Cerne Abbas giant are temporary and will do no lasting damage to the ancient site. In a gesture of goodwill, they have made a £5,000 donation to the National Trust.

This is not the first time that Paddy Power has been seen to deface an area of countryside for publicity purposes. In 2014, it posted an image on its twitter feed showing an image of a Brazilian rainforest with the words: “c’mon England PP” ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, although those images were later revealed to be fake.

RELATED TAGS: Land-Based | Sports Betting | Industry
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