Poster prank hoodwinks McDonald's

By Patrick Evans
BBC News

The two friends pose in front of their poster. (Left) Christian Toledo (Right) Jevh Maravilla.Image source, @Jevholution
Image caption,
The two friends pose in front of their poster. (Left) Christian Toledo (Right) Jevh Maravilla.

One day when Jevh Maravilla was tucking into a meal at his local McDonald's in Houston, Texas, an observation struck him.

In all the cheesy photos of people bedecking the restaurant, one group was not included. "There were no Asians," he told the BBC. Jevh, who has Filipino heritage, decided it was time to fix this and enlisted his friend Christian Toledo to help.

Their mission? To smuggle a poster starring themselves into that McDonald's and hang it up without anyone noticing.

The first step was making the poster. Jevh decided that a photo of him and Christian posing as students would work best.

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"We took the photo outside the neighbourhood events centre while a Zumba class was going on," Jevh said.

They edited the poster to have the same dotted circle design as the other ones in the restaurant. Then they ordered it online and waited for it to arrive.

Image source, @Jevholution
Image caption,
Jevh dons a McDonald's uniform to pull off the heist

The Heist

They had spotted a blank wall perfect for their poster, but the difficult bit was going to be getting it up there undetected.

As in any good heist movie, Jevh assembled a crack team of accomplices. "I needed one friend to record and two friends to help me hang it up."

While his pals blended in as customers, Jevh wore an old McDonald's worker shirt posing as "Jeff Bergara, Regional Interior Coordinator."

They lay in wait for over an hour until the coast was clear. "I was very, very nervous," Jevh said. But when the moment came, they were ready and the poster went up without a hitch.

"We put adhesive on the back so it could be taken down. We didn't want to vandalise the restaurant," Jevh told the BBC.

Image source, @jevholution
Image caption,
Jevh's parents pose in front of the poster

They pulled off the prank on 13 July and the poster has been up ever since.

While acknowledging it was a lot of fun, Jevh makes clear that there is a serious point to be made about the representation of Asian people in American society - whether that is representation in fast food marketing or in Hollywood movies.

"We all deserve equality and all races deserve recognition. I don't know why McDonald's marketing didn't include Asians, but often in the media Asian men are not shown as masculine and Asian women are just portrayed as cute and pretty.

"When I was growing up, Asian people only appeared in movies as martial artists or funny side characters."

Jevh says he was worried his parents would be cross but they were so amused they visited the restaurant and posed for photos with it.

Jevh's tweet about his escapade has been shared more than 140,000 times, and retweeted almost 600,000 times.

His Youtube video about it has also been watched by thousands. People have been leaving comments endorsing his message on representation. "Forget Crazy Rich Asians. This McDonald's poster is the representation we need," wrote one user, referring to a recent American film.

"Brilliant activism by @Jevholution" tweeted another.

What the future holds for the poster is a question only McDonald's can answer. The BBC has approached the company for comment.