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Guys Prank McDonald’s Lack of Asian Representation With Fake Ad, and McDonald’s Makes It Real

Earlier this month, two Texas college students revealed that they had made and hung a fake ad in their local McDonald’s. Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo said they frequented the location often and they noticed that in all the posters on display, none of the smiling faces eating McDonald’s food belonged to Asian people. They also noticed that there was one wall of the restaurant that was completely blank.

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So, they mocked up a surprisingly convincing fake ad, featuring themselves, and managed to hang it without getting caught. It was so convincing, in fact, that when they tweeted about it, the picture had been up for almost two months.

The tweet went viral, and Ellen, lover of good pranks, invited the two on her show. They broke down how exactly they made this happen, and it took a lot of work. The whole process was really impressive, from shooting and editing the pictures to make them look like genuine stock photos, to going incognito for the display process.

They also made their own video of the process, which has over a million views on YouTube.

The prank was fun, but it also highlighted McDonald’s lack of inclusive representation in their promotional materials. Asian and Asian-American people are heavily underrepresented in all forms of U.S. media. Maravilla said he was heavily inspired by Crazy Rich Asians and seeing so many Asian faces on screen. Toledo joked that they were aspiring to be “crazy middle-class Asians.”

McDonald’s apparently agreed with them (or at least wanted to cash in on that positive-PR viral goodwill, a thing they could use right now, to be honest) and is going to use the two of them in an upcoming marketing campaign.

Even better, the company isn’t treating this like some sort of favor. They’re going to pay Maravilla and Toledo each $25,000 for the campaign.

Maravilla told NBC, “The whole world is a melting pot of different cultures, and it’s about time for the media to mirror that. It’s crazy how much of a difference I can make with a small prank and a tweet.”

(image: YouTube)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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