Jevh Maravilla decided to play a prank at McDonald’s with his friend Christian Toledo. But he didn’t expect that the scheme would go unnoticed for nearly two months. And when the fast-food chain finally found out what the two young men had done, its response left the buddies in shock.
Maravilla is a 21-year-old student at the University of Houston. He has a YouTube channel called Jevholution, too, and has always been a fan of pranks. Maravilla’s 25-year-old pal Toledo, on the other hand, works as a goodwill ambassador for Mabuti Group.
What’s more, the two men are regulars at a Pearland, Texas, branch of McDonald’s. And in a video shared on his YouTube page, Maravilla revealed that, while the duo were eating there one day, they spotted a blank wall beside the table they were dining at. As they began to look around the restaurant, however, something stood out to them.
In particular, Maravilla explained, the pair had realized that no Asian models were featured among all the smiling photos decorating the interior of the building. “If you haven’t noticed, there aren’t a lot of Asians represented in the media,” he says in the clip. “There are literally no Asians on any of these walls. Maybe we can change that.”
“They had other races but no Asians, so we felt like it was our duty to put ourselves up there,” Maravilla told KHOU 11 in September 2018. Before long, then, he had concocted a seemingly harebrained scheme. He could perhaps never have expected what would happen afterwards, though.
You see, Maravilla decided to make a fake poster featuring himself and Toledo and hang it up in his local McDonald’s. To do this, the friends bought some food from the chain and set up a tripod to snap photographs of themselves. “We took the photo outside the neighborhood events center while a Zumba class was going on,” Maravilla explained to the BBC in September 2018.
And Toledo and Maravilla had also taken measures to ensure that their poster would fit in by carefully studying the other in-store artwork. “That same night, we edited the picture and purchased it through the Office Depot website,” Maravilla explained on YouTube. “Then they delivered it a week later.”
And although Maravilla’s mother didn’t approve of the prank at first, he admitted that she “couldn’t help but laugh” when she saw the poster arrive. The next step, though, was to figure out how to place the item in the restaurant without anyone noticing. So Maravilla went to a Goodwill store, where by a stroke of pure luck he found a McDonald’s employee shirt in his size for sale.
Then, when the day came to hang up the mock picture, Maravilla dressed in the shirt as well as a black tie and a fake badge that declared he was a “Regional Interior Coordinator” named Jeff Bergara. His and Toledo’s friend Cassandra also accompanied the men to the store to help them carry out the prank.
Yet while Maravilla admitted to the BBC that he had been “very, very nervous” at the time, the pals nonetheless got away with placing the poster on the wall without raising any suspicions. And Maravilla was quick to point out that they’d been mindful not to cause any damage. “We put adhesive on the back, so it could be taken down,” he explained. “We didn’t want to vandalize the restaurant.”
Then the friends waited for the penny to drop – and kept a low profile while visiting the premises. The image blended in so well, however, that nobody at the restaurant noticed that it wasn’t supposed to be there. So, more than 50 days after the poster had been put in place, Maravilla decided to post on Twitter about what he and Toledo had done.
Sharing a photo of himself and Toledo posing in front of their pretend advertisement, Maravilla wrote, “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.” And before long, his post went viral.
The tweet was liked more than one million times and retweeted on 260,000 occasions, in fact. It even became so popular that it was seen by Ellen DeGeneres. And she subsequently invited Maravilla and Toledo onto her show, where she had some major news for the pair.
After Maravilla and Toledo had recounted the story of how they’d carried out the prank, DeGeneres dropped a bombshell. “McDonald’s loves customers like you, and they’re committed to diversity and want to represent all their customers,” she said. “So they’re going to use the two of you in a marketing campaign.”
Maravilla and Toledo couldn’t believe their ears. That wasn’t all, though, as DeGeneres ultimately gave the two another surprise. “Not only that, but since you’re in a campaign they need to pay you, right?” the talk show host said. “So you’re each getting a check for $25,000.”
Naturally, the young men were amazed and delighted by the big reveal. And McDonald’s later wrote to the pair in a tweet, too, saying, “You guys earned this dream. Looking forward to more work from the best Regional Interior Coordinators we’ve ever had!”
Maravilla and Toledo were also contacted by the fast-food chain’s corporate team, who told them that the poster had to be removed due to a long-planned renovation of the Pearland restaurant that was about to take place. However, it was going to a good cause. The image is set to be put up for auction, with the money raised being donated to the Ronald McDonald House Houston children’s charity.
Meanwhile, the YouTube video that Maravilla shared explaining how they executed the practical joke has been watched more than 1.3 million times. And many found it hilarious. “This was fantastic, harmless fun. Way to go,” one viewer wrote. Another added, “The best kind of prank – creative, clever and no one gets hurt (physically or emotionally). Well done!”
One commenter also applauded the men for the motivation that had driven their actions. “I love the message behind this – thank you for helping us Asians being more represented! Also, the poster looks legit and so well done! Great job!” they wrote. And Maravilla said that while the prank was fun, he’s delighted that their message is also being heard.
“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,” Maravilla told the BBC. “We all deserve equality, and all races deserve recognition.”