McDonald’s will feature two University of Houston students in upcoming ads, after their fake ad campaign went viral.
Filipino-American students Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo felt that McDonald’s ads hanging in their local Pearland, TX location weren’t diverse enough, so they made their own. The two purchased a McDonald’s uniform at a thrift store, photographed themselves in the uniform, and made a poster.
With the help of friends, the kids snuck the poster into the location and hung it up on a blank wall. They then photographed themselves in front of the fake ad and it 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,” Maravilla tweeted on September 2nd.
The media production student’s tweet went wild and caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres who hosted the students on her show this week. DeGeneres surprised Maravilla and Toledo, giving them each a $25,000 check from McDonald’s and revealed that the brand plans to use them in future ads.
McDonald’s took down the poster, but plans to add more diverse posters to the store soon. The company tweeted, “You guys earned this dream.”
Marketers can learn a lot of lessons from these kids. First of all, remember to include diversity in your messaging so that all customers feel welcome when patronizing your businesses. Secondly, in the era of social media, consumers can change the conversation around your brand. In this case, the change had a sense of humor and the brand was able to capitalize on the prank. But 51 days is a long time for a DIY message to be live without a company being aware.
And who is hiring these kids? Their creativity, sense of risk and ability to point out an ad’s flaws are core skills to being a great marketer.