A wholesome prank that went viral earned two college students $50,000 and a marketing project for McDonald’s. The friends simply filled a void in the brand’s ethnic representation, sat back and reaped the rewards.
Inspired by Crazy Rich Asians and what the film means for representation, Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo—both hailing from the Philippines—decided to make their own inclusive marketing materials to fill a blank wall at their local McDonald’s restaurant.
“We looked around [and] we saw all these other posters on there. We saw that [there are] different ethnicities, and we saw that they’re all these people having fun, so we decided to represent ourselves as Asians—to be up there as well,” Maravilla explained.
The two friends carefully studied the design layout of materials hung around the restaurant, then created their own image to match. The poster featured Maravilla and Toledo, both walking together while holding food from the restaurant. A YouTube video, which has garnered over one million views to date, tells the story of how they snuck the poster into McDonald’s unnoticed.
Maravilla donned a McDonald’s shirt he found at a thrift store and a fake ID badge calling himself a Regional Interior Coordinator. Then he, Toledo and two friends casually walked in and hung the art.
Nearly two months later, the poster was still hanging at McDonald’s. Maravilla shared a photo of Toledo and himself sitting in front of it, which quickly went viral.
i noticed there was a blank wall at mcdonald’s so i decided to make this fake poster of me and my friend. It’s now been 51 days since i hung it up. pic.twitter.com/5OTf5aR4vm
— JΞVH M (@Jevholution) September 3, 2018
This kind of peaceful “reverse vandalism” caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres, who invited the duo onto her show. There, Maravilla and Toledo were surprised to learn that McDonald’s plans to use them for a future marketing campaign. McDonald’s also paid them each $25,000.
McDonald’s chose not to punish the creative young designers but use their energy to fuel change within the company. The famous poster will be removed when the restaurant gets remodeled, but Maravilla and Toledo will be around to design something new—for real this time.
You guys earned this dream. 👍 Looking forward to more work from the best “Regional Interior Coordinators” we’ve ever had! 😉
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) September 19, 2018