McDonald’s prankster response: I’m lovin’ it

On Tuesday’s episode of The Ellen Show, host Ellen DeGeneres interviewed the two guys who played a prank on McDonalds, made a video about it, and became famous overnight. On the show, the guests and Ellen shared McDonalds’ response to the prank, in which the Golden Arches hit a PR home run.

If you didn’t see the video, here’s the backstory. Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo noticed their local McDonalds featured posters of people enjoying McDonalds food. The actors featured on the posters represented several different ethnicities, but didn’t include Asians. As Filipino-Americans who were full of Asian pride thanks to the success of the film Crazy Rich Asians, they decided to take diversity into their own hands.

So, they made their own poster, which masterfully copied McDonalds marketing style. They even found a used McDonalds uniform at a Goodwill store and made a fake employee badge that Toledo wore when they put the poster up, just in case a worker noticed. He was prepared to claim he was “from corporate” and was there to correct a diversity issue, which was absolutely brilliant because it’s so believable.

Not only did the two pull off the prank, the poster remained up on the wall for 51 days. It would probably still be there if the video hadn’t gone viral.

McDonalds has not only responded to the prank with grace, they’ve used it to their publicity advantage. Here are four things they did right.

  1. They kept their cool. McDonalds could have filed charges against the two for vandalism, but they didn’t. That was smart, because millions of people thought the prank was clever and even admired the pranksters.
  2. They admitted their mistake. McDonalds acknowledged that their campaign was lacking in diversity by excluding Asians and apologized for it publicly, and directly to the pranksters.
  3. They harnessed the power of social media. Not only did they admit their campaign needed Asian actors, McDonalds went a step further and hired the pranksters to star in the campaign. The two guys are social media stars now, which means the new ads will be anticipated and shared on social media, exponentially increasing McDonalds’ advertising value.
  4. They added a charity angle. The poster itself will be auctioned off and the proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides a home environment near hospitals for families of seriously ill or injured children. That’s icing on McDonalds’ feel-good cake. (Or would that be a feel-good apple pie?)

Does your credit union turn negative publicity into something positive, or is your knee jerk response defensive and punitive? McDonalds could have put out a defensive statement reaffirming their commitment to diversity and cited examples. Even if the statement had a positive spin, opening with a line like, “we appreciate Jevh and Christian bringing this oversight to our attention,” but the end result wouldn’t have been the same.

It’s like the popular saying goes: you can’t control what happens, only the way you respond to it. McDonalds responded in exactly the right way. I’m lovin’ it, Ellen is lovin’ it, and America is, too.

Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson is co-founder of OmniChannel Communications, a marketing company that serves fintech and asset/liability management firms. Previously, she was executive editor of Credit Union Times. She has more ... Web: Details