Marketers mock viral art phenomenon with a bunch of bananas

Marketers have gone bananas over a piece of art at the international art fair Art Basel that went viral this weekend. Created by the controversial Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, “Comedian” consisted of a banana duct taped to the wall.

The work sold for $120,000, and its “viral-ness” was ensured when a New York performance artist named David Datuna pulled the banana off the wall and ate it. He explained simply that he was hungry.

Never one to miss a social opportunity, Burger King was among the first to weigh in with a Twitter post created by Paris agency Buzzman juxtaposing the $120,000 banana with a French fry costing a fraction of the price. It’s accompanied by the slogan “N’avalez pas n’importe quoi,” roughly translated as “be careful what you swallow.”

Elsewhere, the Turkish home and garden store Tekzen posted an image with the message “Everything you need to produce modern art is in Tekzen.”

Canadian brands have also taken advantage of the impromptu marketing opportunity. On Monday, David’s Tea posted a picture of a tin of its Banana Nut Bread tea duct-taped to a wall, accompanied by the message “Banana nut bread: a performance art piece.” And the Royal Canadian Mint joined in with a post that included a toonie scotch-taped to the banana, listing the price at $120,002.

Dairy Queen Canada, meanwhile, posted an Instagram picture of its Banana Split duct-taped to the wall, accompanied by the phrase “Worth every penny.” The work was done by the Publicis Toronto team of Lucas Palleschi and Jason Florentino.

“When we heard about the Art Basel banana installation selling for $120,000 this past weekend, we thought why not use DQ’s banana split treat as a way to get in on the fun?” said art director Alek von Felkerzam in an e-mail to The Message. “Plus, our piece has ice cream. It’s at least worth $121,000.”

Yes, but is it advertising?

Chris Powell