Pictures posted by Paddy Power of the Amazon rainforest with gashes taken out of it to spell a message supporting the England football team received an instant backlash, one Twitter user branding it the "most idiotic PR stunt ever".
I really hope that Paddy Power thing is fake because if not it's the most idiotic PR stunt I've ever seen— Michael Gill (@thatmichaelgill) June 7, 2014
As anger grew, the bookmaker eventually confessed with a blog post stating that the photos were created with computer software and "not a single tree was harmed in the Amazon".
It followed up with another picture encouraging people to visit the sign-up page for Greenpeace's campaign to protect rainforest wildlife.
The blog said: "Greenpeace told us that in the Amazon an area the size of 122 football pitches is chopped down every 90 minutes, which is shocking. Paddy Power’s #Shavetherainforest stunt helps to haul this issue into the public light, with our own little mischievous twist."
While Greenpeace denied being involved in the campaign, Richard George, its forests campaigner, said: "It’s very reassuring that people were outraged when they thought Paddy Power had destroyed tropical rainforest for advertising – but it’s just as outrageous to chop it down for garden decking or flooring.
"Efforts to help raise awareness of the crisis facing our rainforests are always welcome, and we hope that the World Cup bringing the eyes of the world to Brazil will lead to a lot more attention being paid to this issue."
A statement by the creators of the stunt 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."