NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When the phrase "Cala Boca Galvao," baffling to non-Portuguese speakers, became the top Twitter trending topic on Monday, Brazilians playfully and collectively invented a fictitious storyline around the three words.
In what quickly became a global internet meme, galvao birds are an endangered species, and Lady Gaga is about to release a song, already a hit on YouTube, in their defense.
Except the phrase "Cala Boca Galvao" really means "Shut up, Galvao" and is a reference to the Brazilian sports announcer Galvao Bueno, who is irritating many Brazilians with his bombastic World Cup commentary, prompting the widespread Twitter outburst against him.
But Brazilians love a joke, and Brazil's Twitterverse was happy to provide an alternate explanation for the words, often in fractured English. A Brazilian named Gabriel posted several videos on YouTube sharing his rendition of the supposed Lady Gaga song. The Galvao Institute sprang up and thanked the Twitterverse for $1 million in donations -- 10 cents every time someone tweeted about galvao birds -- toward the foundation's goal of building a $5 million complex to preserve the rare birds' habitat and protect them from illegal bird traders (in the videos, galvao birds look suspiciously like parrots). Another video implicated Brazil's legendary Carnival as a major culprit in creating demand for galvao feathers.
"It's a crazy story of how an entire country mobilized itself in a collective joke: trying to get the world to believe that "Cala a boca galvao" is the name of a new Lady Gaga song for an endangered bird, when it's really "Shut up, Galvao" -- a crowdsourced statement against Galvao Bueno," said one Brazilian agency exec, who says that he's avoiding Mr. Galvao's commentary when he watches World Cup games by replacing the sound with his iPhone's Slingplayer. "Cala Boca Galvao shows how the fun of a collective prank can be more motivating than many serious, corporate ideas."
And for anyone who wants to continue the collective prank, there's a flash mob scheduled for June 20 at 6 p.m. local time, when people are instructed to go outside and shake their arms, in imitation of a galvao bird.