When Barcelona right-back Dani Alves ate the banana thrown onto the pitch in Villarreal this weekend, he kick-started an anti-racism global social media campaign that was planned well in advance, according to a report in Spanish paper AS.
AS report that after Alves' Barca and Brazil teammate Neymar had been racially abused in the Catalan derby at Espanyol in late March, a group of marketing firms were asked to develop a campaign which could draw attention to an issue which has blighted Spanish football for years.
Alves did not know the banana would be thrown onto the pitch at Villarreal on Sunday, however, he and Neymar had decided that if an incident occurred, one of them would make sure to eat the fruit on camera. That moment could then be used to kick-start a social media campaign, with professional backing already in place to help ensure maximum impact.
Within minutes of the incident occurring Neymar, who is currently recovering from a foot injury, had posted images of himself and his young son with bananas to his Instagram and Twitter accounts. Other high profile players including Sergio Aguero, David Luiz, Hulk, Mario Balotelli and Roberto Carlos have since followed suit, while non-football figures including Brazil president Dilma Rousseff have also offered support for the campaign online.
According Guga Ketzer, partner in advertising agency Loducca who have worked on the project with Brazilian marketers Meio e Mensagen and the Neymar camp, the plan has worked very well.
"Actions speak louder than words" Ketzer told AS. "A gesture needs no translation and what we’re seeing is that this has gone viral, globally. The idea was for Neymar to eat the banana, but in the end it was Alves, and that works just the same."
Ketzer explained that the hashtags #somostodosmacacos and #weareallmonkeys, which Neymar used first on Sunday night and which have since gone viral, had been thought up in advance.
"The best way to beat prejudice is to take the sting out of the racist action so it isn’t repeated," the publicist said. "We created #somostodosmacacos and #weareallmonkeys, with the gesture of eating a banana, and it has been turned into a movement."
The Spanish paper says that there has also been a carefully prepared commercial aspect to the campaign -- with T-shirts bearing the #somostodosmacacos hashtag and a banana image produced by a company owned by Brazilian TV presenter Luciano Huck now on sale for 25 euros.