26 February, 2014

What do you do with 5,000 Fairtrade bananas?

by Martine Parry, Media Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation

This Monday saw the world’s first ever Fairtrade banana billboard unveiled on Clapham Common to mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight. Martine Parry, Media Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, explains the thinking behind the 5,000 banana-studded stunt.

Cheska Foncho and HarryThe face of Fairtrade’s Make Bananas Fair campaign, Colombian banana farmer ‘Foncho’ Cantillo, spent Monday morning on Clapham Common in London, unveiling the world’s first billboard made entirely out of bananas.

The giant billboard – made from more than 5,000 green and yellow bananas – was erected to mark the start of the two week campaign, drawing attention to the 20,000 banana themed events around the country and the bitter supermarket price wars which are trapping thousands of banana farmers and workers in poverty.

Foncho was joined by Made in Chelsea star Cheska Hull and comedian Harry Hill in the unveiling of the billboard, which could be seen from across the Common. Both Cheska and Harry had seen first-hand, on visits to banana cooperative VREL in Ghana, the difference Fairtrade can make to the lives of banana plantation workers.

Meeting our campaign face Foncho, now a celebrity himself for the first time, was fantastic and gave a sense of symmetry.
Banana billboardCreated by Brighton-based artists Henry Coate and Toby Crowther, the billboard measures 6 x 4 metres, took 3 days and 11 hours to make and features the iconic raised fist clutching a banana.

After months of complicated logistics to get the billboard together including working out how to transport the bananas from the supplier to the stunt at the perfect temperatur, finally seeing the culmination of all our careful planning on Clapham Common first thing on a sunny but cold Monday was a proud moment. And Foncho placing the final banana on the board was the cherry on the cake for me!

Taken down after just a day on show, the green and yellow billboard bananas have now gone on to local food banks and the brown ones to Battersea Park Children’s Zoo (much to the enjoyment of the monkeys we’re sure!).

Cheska and HarryWhile the billboard stopped walkers and workers in their tracks, we hope it will do more than that by making people think about where their bananas are coming from and those who are producing them.

This Fortnight, we want to make a real impact to show how Fairtrade can make a difference to the lives of those who grow our favourite fruit – and the billboard was a great way of spreading this message further.

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