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A Brazilian Twitter Campaign That Really Is for the Birds

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At work on Monday morning, the two Brazilians who sit next to Lucas Shanks were speaking rapid-fire Portuguese. It would occur to Mr. Shanks later that they might have been plotting against him at that very moment, but, as he pointed out, he is 24, a bit naïve, from Minnesota and a devoted follower of Twitter.


Fonte: The New York Times



Taken together, these were all factors that made him vulnerable to one of history’s most successful cyberpranks.


A copywriter with the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Midtown, Mr. Shanks had been meaning to ask his Brazilian colleagues about a mysterious Portuguese phrase he had seen posted on Twitter for several days: “Cala Boca Galvão.” It was one of the top trending topics on Twitter, meaning that thousands of people were passing it along every hour.


He called out to Thiago Cardoso, an associate creative director at the agency, who grew up in Brazil.


“What is this cali-bing-gala?” Mr. Shanks asked, mangling the words.


“You mean Cala Boca Galvão?” Mr. Cardoso, 29, said. “You really don’t know, dude? Let me show you something.”


He clicked on a YouTube video.


“Help us save the Galvão birds,” the announcer said, his voice seeming to come right out of a BBC broadcast.


The rare Galvão bird, native to Brazil, was endangered, he continued. About 300,000 a year were slaughtered for their feathers during Carnival. Climate change was killing more. But there was hope: a scientist had a project to rescue the birds. Amazingly, anyone could help — just by putting up a post on Twitter.


“Every tweet with Cala Boca Galvão generates a donation of 10 cents to the Galvão Birds Foundation,” the video announcer said. “One second to tweet. One second to save a life. Galvão Institute. For a better world.”


Mr. Cardoso looked solemnly at Mr. Shanks. “Do your part, dude,” he said.


How exactly a Twitter post would generate 10 cents was not explained, but as Mr. Shanks said on Tuesday, “the last thing I wanted to do was insult a bird that held a lot of pride for the Brazilians.”


Joining a worldwide throng, Mr. Shanks posted the words “Cala Boca Galvão.”


They actually have nothing to do with an endangered bird.


The phrase refers to Brazil’s leading sports announcer, Galvão Bueno, a man who, to the ears of some Brazilians, is a bombastic cliché machine. On Friday, the first day of the World Cup, someone posted the phrase on Twitter.


Translation: “Shut up, Galvão.”


Another Brazilian expatriate in New York, Felipe Memoria, said that Mr. Bueno, as the leading sportscaster on the largest television network in the country, was able to hold the soccer-crazed nation hostage to his line of patter. “The majority of people would like to make fun of Galvão,” Mr. Memoria, 32, said. “They also love to take over things like Twitter.”


So all day on Friday, Brazilians were posting the shut-up comment. Inevitably, others asked what the words meant. That was when the real mischief began. At 2 a.m. on Saturday, a Brazilian wrote in English that it was a bird. (In fact, the Portuguese word for hawk, “gavião,” is close to Galvão.) An online petition to save the bird was published; a flier was circulated promising 10-cent donations for each post. The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote on Twitter: “CALA BOCA GALVÃO is the Brazilian version of a homeopathic remedy SILENTIUM GALVANUS.”


By dawn Saturday, Fernando Motolese, a comedian and audiovisual producer in São Paolo, Brazil, had started work on his one-minute video. He recruited a British actor, Stewart Clapp, to do the voice-over. “It took about 32 hours to make, without sleep,” Mr. Motolese said by phone on Tuesday. The video rallies support for a Brazilian scientist who has devised a special birdhouse to protect the few remaining Galvãos.


The video, posted Sunday night on a Brazilian humor blog and also YouTube, has been viewed a half-million times. By Tuesday evening, “Cala Boca Galvão” remained the leading Twitter subject in the world.


“It is an insider joke by an entire country,” Mr. Cardoso said, a triumph more satisfying to many Brazilians than the lame 2-to-1 victory their team managed over North Korea on Tuesday.


According to published reports, the target of the campaign, the broadcaster Galvão Bueno, doesn’t mind the joke.


He had better not. Drawing on another Internet gimmick, a movie clip of Hitler, ranting in German, has been given fresh subtitles to show him responding to the “Cala Boca Galvão” phenomenon. He is not amused.



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