Far-right Pegida supporters unknowingly protest against German national team

1st Jul 2016

Elham Asaad Buaras & Ali Mitib

Supporters of the far-right anti-Islam German group Pegida were left red faced after expressing outrage at the use of non-white children’s faces on Kinder bars – only to be sarcastically informed the Italian confectionery group Ferrero had in fact used childhood photos of the football national team.

Kinder bars have since 1983 used an image of a blond-haired, blue eyed boy, but unbeknown to Pegida supporters this was changed in time for the European Championships for photos of the German team. Among them are images of Jerome Boateng, whose father is from Ghana, and Ilkay Gundogan, whose parents are Turkish immigrants.

On May 19, the Bodensee branch of the movement posted one of the packaging images featuring Boateng and Gundogan on their Facebook  page with a caption: “They don’t stop at anything. Can you really buy them like that or is this a joke?”

Other Pegida supporters quickly chimed in with misguided outrage including a comment from Sebastian Gollmer, who wrote: “They’re trying to pass this s*#t off as normal, poor Germany.” Another user, Michael Shepherd said: “This is nothing but a fake, no?!?!?”

One commenter responded: “Do the Turks and other countries use pictures of German children on their sweets or groceries? Surely not.” Others called for a boycott of the chocolate bars, which are produced by the Italian manufacturer Ferrero. One wrote: “If that’s the case, I won’t be buying it anymore.”

The Facebook page was then inundated by Germans ready to mock the group’s evident ignorance of the marketing campaign.

One Facebook user mockingly asked, “Should I tell them or not?”

One noted that the marketing campaign was linked to the upcoming European Football Championship, while another, quoted in the Guardian, wrote, “Dear folks, firstly Ferrero is an Italian manufacturer, and secondly, where do [you] think they get the cocoa from to make the chocolate with?” Twitter users also got in on the act with many white and non-white Germans taking opportunity to show their support for the Kinder campaign by posting pictures of themselves as children under the hashtag #cutesolidarity.

Others trended #backfire mocking the far-right group’s confusion and ignorance. All in good humour, one user tweeted: “I want to see the faces of PEGIDA on toilet paper packaging!”

The German satire magazine Titanic was quick to react, posting a ‘PEGIDA-Edition’ spoof of the chocolate bars sporting childhood photos of Adolf Hitler and Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right Norwegian man who killed 77 people in a 2011 terrorist rampage.

In response to the comments of Pegida, Robert Grindel, the head of the German Soccer Association (DFB) said the Pegida supporters’ comments were distasteful. Grindel said: “The German national soccer team is one of the best examples of successful integration and millions of people in Germany are proud of this team because it is as it is.”

Such was the furore over Pegida’s blunder that Ferrero later issued their own statement on Facebook.

“We at Ferrero would like to distance ourselves from any form of xenophobia or discrimination, we don’t accept or tolerate this in our Facebook communities either,” the company wrote. Following the backlash, the Bodensee Pegida told their supporters on Facebook that it was “best just not to answer.”

“We’ve really dived into a wasps’ nest here,” the group said in a post. By Wednesday May 22 the Bodensee PEGIDA Facebook page had been deactivated.

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