The viral prank Filipino-Americans pulled on a fast food giant

September 21, 2018 - 2:25 PM
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Two Filipino-Americans sent a powerful message on race representation when they put up a fake poster at a fast food restaurant in Texas.

Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo first became popular on Twitter when Maravilla shared images of the poster they made that had themselves as models at one of the locations of McDonald’s in Pearland City in Texas.

They got away with the stunt for 51 days at the time of the posting.

Inspired by critically acclaimed film “Crazy Rich Asians,” Maravilla told talk show host Ellen Degeneres on her show that he and Toledo are calling for racial diversity—the inclusion of those with Asian ethnicity in particular—on the walls of the restaurant.

“We looked around 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.

Inspired by ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

“Crazy Rich Asians,” a Hollywood film that put Asian culture in the spotlight, was adapted from a novel of the same name by bestselling author Kevin Kwan.

These kids put up a poster of themselves in a McDonald’s, and nobody noticed for months. But I noticed.

These kids put up a poster of themselves in a McDonald’s, and nobody noticed for months. But I noticed.

Posted by Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

“I watched the movie three times. It was insane,” Maravilla admitted to Degeneres.

Toledo then chided, “And so we wanted to be crazy middle-class Asians.”

In another interview with NBCNews.com, Maravilla said that he and Toledo aimed to work in the field of film and TV in the future and the “Crazy Rich Asians” story gave him hope that such dream will come true.

“I hope that we can inspire others through the use of film through media platforms—either on the web, television, or on the big screen,” he said.

Maravilla shared to Degeneres that the establishment only contacted him after his Twitter post went viral.

Food website Eater stated that that their made-up visual will be auctioned off to support the charity arm Ronald McDonald House in Houston.

How they did it

Prior to being guests at the Ellen show, Maravilla uploaded a video on his YouTube channel back on August 2 showing the public how he and his friends carried out the stunt.

Maravilla and Toledo, both students of the University of Houston in Texas, regularly hung out at the place with their friends when they noticed the blank wall. It offered them the perfect opportunity for their prank.

With the help of their friends, they took a creative shot of themselves, turned it into a big poster and hung it on the blank wall while the employees weren’t looking.

To avoid suspicion, Maravilla then had himself dressed as an employee using a uniform he bought from a nearby thrift store.

Because of the strong message their prank conveyed, Maravilla and Toledo each received checks worth $25,000 from the food company and will even be using them as official models in its future campaigns.

Diversity and inclusion in ethnicity, gender, body sizes and other aspects of people became top priorities in marketing campaigns in recent years.

It is to drive empathy, according to marketing website Adage, and understand the way of thinking of more types of people, thus find a way to influence or change them.

“It’s not just about making sure advertising campaigns feature different races, genders and ages; it’s about making sure that different kinds of people are portrayed in fair, accurate and realistic way,” the article said.