- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An anti-racism campaign swept the Internet this week after a man threw a banana at Barcelona defender Dani Alves, but it turns out the incident was a planned marketing stunt, according to a report by Spanish newspaper AS.

Social media exploded after Mr. Alves mockingly ate a banana during a match that was chucked by 26-year-old David Campayo Lleo, who was arrested for racist provocation. With hashtags like, #weareallmonkeys and #saynotoracism, people all over the world, including fellow soccer players, uploaded photos of themselves eating bananas.

Now, AS reports that the stunt was planned well in advance after Mr. Alves and his teammate Neymar were racially abused at Espanyol back in March.

Together, with marketing firm Loducca and Brazilian marketers Meio e Mensagen, Neymar and Alves planned the stunt as a way to kick-start a social media campaign.

Loducca’s Guga Ketzer, who reportedly worked on the project, told AS: “Actions speak louder than words. 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.”

Italian premier Matteo Renzi, left, and Italian national soccer team coach Cesare Prandelli share a banana in solidarity to Barcelona Brazilian player Dani Alves, during a ceremony in Rome, Monday, April 28, 2014. Alves, who is black, was about to take a corner in Sunday's 3-2 win at Villarreal's El Madrigal Stadium when a banana landed on the pitch in front of him. The Brazil international picked it up, peeled it and ate some of it before throwing the rest aside. After the match, Alves said humor was the best way to combat racism in sport. That sentiment has led fellow football players, officials and even political figures from around the globe to respond with solidarity by picturing themselves eating a banana. (AP Photo/Roberto Monaldo, Lapresse) ITALY OUT
Italian premier Matteo Renzi, left, and Italian national soccer team coach Cesare ... more >

A publicist for Meio e Mensagen told the paper: “The best way to beat prejudice is to take the sting out of the racist action so it isn’t repeated. We created #somostodosmacacos #weareallmonkeys, with the gesture of eating a banana, and it has been turned into a movement.”