It was November 20th, 2003. I was driving out of the East Alton, Illinois McDonalds drive-thru in the morning, McGriddle in hand, and I noticed a sign that didn't make much sense. It was across the parking lot and directly in front of anyone waiting for their food at the drive-thru window. It said, "OUR TEAM IS EMPOWERED TO GUARANTEE YOUR SATISFACTION. THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING McDONALDS." What a strangely-worded sign. Then I notice the way that the sign is built on the stand - it'd be easy to replace the entire thing with my own creation.
So at lunch, me and a friend quickly drive through McDonald's parking lot on our way to Subway and take a few pictures of the sign. I also get out and measure the sign - it's 35 1/4" wide and 22" down. My plan is to cut a piece of plywood to that size, write something new on it and use drywall screws to attach it on top of the existing sign. But I need some ideas on what to make the new sign say. So I turn to the users of Cal's Forums and ask for ideas.
Here are all of the suggestions made by Cal's Forum users. The signs pictured below are obviously photoshop jobs, made for suggestions by Cal's users. Some of them are great, some of them suck. You be the judge!
I would keep it very similar to what's up there. Maybe something like "Our Team is Empowered with the Dark Side of the force. Thank you for choosing McVader's" If nothing else, all the star wars freaks and fan sites would be hosting it and talking about it. -judasiscariot
well an obvious edit would be to include the word sex so it's "Our team is empowered to guarantee your sexual satifaction" but that's not very original -jedibebop
How about "IF YOU DON'T TURN LEFT RIGHT NOW, YOU WILL RUN OVER THIS SIGN. -THE MANAGEMENT" -rbcp
I think what would be funny is "Our team is empowered to guarantee your gratifaction. Thank you for choosing McDonalds" Its just changed enough that it would stay up for a long time and people would be wondering....gratifaction? Is that even a word? -Moose-Alini
I'd say something like "Least polluted fast food place, 1999-2001 2001-2002" -Big-E
"Our team would like to thank our lawyer for winning our food poisoning court battle" -jedibebop
"Our team wants to let you know, Don't eat the chicken nuggets!" -judasiscariot
How about "Our team is guarenteed to enhance your stratification." And then put "Please ask for an application." Even without that last sentence, it would still be kinda funny. Especially with the whole "McJob" dictionary defination making the news. -sarah601
"DID YOU REALLY NEED ANOTHER CHEESEBURGER, FATTY?" -tacojon
How about "You didn't really think that was hamburger did you?" -LethalDosage
'we now use real chicken in our mcnuggets!' -mr_doc
'we are not responsible for your obesity. Please eat responsibly' -mr_doc
'we've gone 4 months without a class action lawsuit!' -mr_doc
'gerbil deliveries: please use rear door' -mr_doc
'breakfast now served until 12:00 pm' -mr_doc
'now hiring: fry cooks and floor moppers see team leader roy for details' -mr_doc
Put a heading across the top that says "MCDONALD'S EMPLOYEE MEMORIAL WALL". Underneath that, attach a photo of a person in a McDonald's uniform. Label it with a name (let's use "Ramon" for this example), his birth and death dates (i.e. 1979-2003), and the caption "LOST IN TRAGIC FRYER ACCIDENT." Beneath that, add the words "CHECK YOUR SANDWICH FOR OUR FALLEN COMRADES" in bold red letters. -tacojon
How about "Our team is endowed to guarantee your satisfaction". Subtle sexual double-meanings make me giggle. -Mithrandir_t00
"You have water, come to my house. Thank you for choosing McDonalds" -Liife
Due to constant complaints, we are now asking all patrons to please check your cheeseburgers for rat feces. We apolgize for the inconvience. -Mrpeanut
Our team is emploding, please get help! Thank you for saving lives. -Mrpeanut
"All your money are belong to us" -hellview
You could put something up there that says "Warning!" and put everything below it in Polish, Czech, or even Gaelic. -hellview
You could do a good deed and tell people to be careful not to spill coffee on their pee pee. -Nelsonmandela
CAUTION: SIGN -RTFirefly
how about "our staff is empowered to gun you down in the event of shoplifting a happy meal" -PuRewiReZ
Happy Meals now with 50% less happiness due to bad economy. -Murd0c
here we go "If we team up with Walmart we will own all of you!" -14D
Try to make it look like a heart doctor sponsored the sign. That way you could fuck with McDonalds AND a local cardiologist. The sign could say something like "Thanks for Choosing McDonald's -- We Lubricate Your Arteries! Brought to you by Dr. Wilhem Maosos, Cardiologist, St. Emmanual Hospital" -Spessa
We apologize, but cows and chickens have become extinct due to our harvesting techniques. -tk
Fresh food made from people just like you! -Somebody
|I don't want to use any of the ideas that defame the quality of McDonald's food or falsely advertise their products. My intent is mostly to amuse people, not piss them off. I finally decide to pick Mithrandir_t00's suggestion of "Our team is endowed to guarantee your satisfaction" but I change his wording slightly to read, "Our team is well-endowed to guarantee your pleasure!" Even if this is false advertising, I don't think the employees are going to say, "Hey, that's not true because our weeners aren't that big!" The next day I begin construction of the sign. I start out by Googling for the McDonald's logo and placing it in Microsoft Word along with our new slogan. I print it all up on transparency paper.|
|I have plenty of plywood in my basement to work with. I use a sheet of 1/4" plywood and cut it to the correct demensions. Then I paint it white. Next I place the transparent sheets on my overhead projector and shine them onto my sheet of plywood, which I've nailed to the wall, and trace the letters onto the board with pencil.|
Now it's time to paint! I have all the colors I need already except for red. So I go out and buy a quart of red paint and a package of Crayola watercolor brushes. My paints end up being a combination of water-based and oil-based paints. I'm not sure if any of it is meant for outdoor use but I don't expect the sign to last too long so I figure that won't be a problem. A friend of mine suggests coating the entire thing with polyurethane to help it last longer.
The first day I went to install the sign, I tried it by myself. It was about 1:00pm on a Saturday afternoon and it was snowing. The drive-thru was packed so I was sure that nobody would notice me. I grabbed the sign, my cordless power drill and a bunch of screws. I pulled up to the sign, putting my car between the sign and the drive-thru window so they would have a harder time noticing what I was doing. I calmly got out of the car, took the sign out of the passenger side and started to put it up. This is when I discovered that it was too big to fit! The height ended up being about 1/8" too much. So I threw it back in the car and took it home to cut it. I guess my measuring and arithmatic skills could stand a little improvement.
Several days later I went out to try again. This time it was about 9:00pm. McDonalds was dead and as I drove through the parking lot, 2 employees sat at the window and stared at me as I drove by. I decided that it would be a bad night to try this. I threw the sign in my trunk and it sat there for a couple of weeks.
I decided that I needed to have a friend drive me there during a busy lunch period so they could pull up and I could just lean out the window and quickly install it while they keep a lookout. Unfortunately I don't have any friends. But my lucky break was when Tami and her boyfriend (Tami helped us create the Drive-thru Shenanigans prank video) brought their computer to my house for me to fix. And it just happened to be noon! So I asked if they could give me a ride out to McDonalds and they did. Here is the sign, finally put up after 2 or 3 weeks:
I wasn't able to lean out of the window like I'd hoped so I just had her stop the car and I got out and installed it. My sign fit into the opening perfectly, although not quite as tightly as I'd hoped. I drove one single drywall screw through the middle of the sign to hold it in place and I hope gravity takes care of the rest. I should have used more screws but I didn't want to ruin my white paint job with black drywall screws. The whole event took me maybe 20 seconds.
An interesting coincidence was that there were several huge trucks parked right next to the sign and they were for some kind of sign company! We assumed that they were just inside having some lunch. But when we came back about 20 minutes later, they were actually doing some work on the big McDonalds sign. It's a good thing they weren't working on the big sign when we came there the first time or I probably would have chickened out. Hopefully they don't decide to replace my sign when they're done.
12-13-2003: The sign has disappeared! I went there for breakfast today and it was gone. It only lasted there 3 days. How disappointing. But this is where it gets kind of strange...I called McDonalds and pretended to be some regional manager guy responding to a complaint about a sign on their property. I spoke with the McManager there (the head McManager, not just any ole McManager) and she had no idea what I was talking about. She didn't even know what sign in the parking lot I was talking about.
So what happened to it then? Did a customer decide to steal it? Did an employee steal it and not tell anyone? Should I call the police about this theft? Maybe the manager from the day before took it down and just didn't get around to telling anyone about it. Maybe the owner of that McDonalds took it and just hasn't told the store about it yet. We may never know. But my guess is that a customer saw it and stole it.
I never intended to make another sign and do this again. But I was just so disappointed that my previous sign disappeared so quickly that I just can't let it end like this. I was seriously hoping my "well-endowed" sign would last for the entire winter. So here we go again...
The first sign warns drivers to turn left or they will run into the sign. The second uses tacojon's idea of, "Did you really need another cheeseburger, fatty??" But I've also added an idea of Cal's - "Try our new atkins-approved menu!" This time I'm going to do it with a slight twist. The "Turn left" sign was made with plywood, just like the original sign. But the "Fatty" sign was done on posterboard. I'm going to use thumbtacks to tack the posterboard sign on top of the wooden sign. My hope is that the employee or manager will see my sign tacked there and think, "Oh, I'll just take these tacks off and throw this sign away!" and they won't even notice the real sign underneath.
Will my "sign on a sign" trick work? I seriously doubt it. But never underestimate a McDonald's employee! To help divert attention away from the fake sign underneath I've hand written a sloppy note on the back of the posterboard. It reads, "Hey! Don't be mad about this sign. It was just a joke." I purposely wrote this message sloppy and in smaller letters near the end. I even messed up the word "joke" and wrote over it and I wrote on top of the part where the lettering from the other side bled through the posterboard. My hope is that the McDonald's employee will be so occupied with trying to read my message on the back that they won't have time to notice the "Please Turn Left." sign that they've uncovered.
After leaving the sign sitting in my kitchen for months, we finally get around to putting the new signs up. We drive there at 9:00pm in a minivan and as we pull up to the sign, I throw open the sliding side door and jump out with a sign in one hand and a power drill in the other. Blarring from the van's stereo was the theme to The A-Team. Well okay, not really. Anyway, I get the sign into place in just a few seconds. I jump back into the van and we speed off past the employee sweeping the parking lot. It's okay, he didn't see us.
We swung around the parking lot one more time to snap a picture of the sign, and then went home. Early the next morning, we went back for some breakfast and to make sure the sign was still there - it was. Once again, we snapped a picture and went home. Here are the pictures.
Throughout the morning, I got hourly reports from various people that the sign was still up. A friend on his way to work stopped by and checked on it and reported to me. EvilCal and his girlfriend stopped by there for breakfast and reported that it was still there. I got reports up until 11:00am. And that's when it disappeared. Not just the posterboard part of it, but the sign underneath too. My evil plan to trick McDonald's failed! But it's okay, because the sign lasted about 14 hours and the entire breakfast crowd got to see it. I knew a sign that called the customers fat wouldn't last long and I'm surprised it lasted all morning. It's too bad nobody got to see the sign underneath, though.
Sometime during the evening, things turned a little bizarre. A neighbor returning from work stopped by to check on the sign for me. He called me up to tell me the sign was gone and I told him I already knew. He says, "No, the WHOLE SIGN is gone. It's just 2 posts sticking out of the ground now!" So I raced to McDonald's to get a picture of it. Sure enough, the top board and the sign itself were completely missing.
I figure they're either taking the sign down because it's just more trouble than it's worth or they've shipped the sign off to the crime lab to dust it for fingerprints so they can put me away for life. The half-sign stayed there for 2 days. Then the entire thing was gone. It was looking pretty ratty, so I guess they decided to just get rid of it. I walked over to where it once stood and noticed that they just sawed off the posts at the ground.
So here's the new plan: I feel bad that they had to take down their sign so I'm going to build a completely new one for them. The front will read QUIT TAKING DOWN MY FUNNY SIGNS, YOU DAMN EMPLOYEES! It will be constructed out of 4x4 posts and a sheet of plywood.
Okay, I'm kidding. The McDonald's sign prank at this location is now officially over. It was fun while it lasted but I think it's time to leave these people alone. But in closing, we decided to make a quick phone call to McDonald's to ask them what they thought of the prank. Here's the call in mp3 format:
click here to listen to the call
The call starts out with us being a little deceptive just to get some information. But when we come clean, the McManager doesn't talk to us for very long before hanging up on us. She won't even admit that she thought the joke was funny. We're quite sure she laughed after she hung up though. Right before she dialed *57.
Thanks for reading this page, we hope you've enjoyed it! There's no doubt that the positive impact of this event shall be felt for years to come. When trainees ask, "Why are there wooden stumps in the ground here?" the manager will reply, "Oh those. Well, it's a long story. Why don't I tell you over a Big Mac..."
This is the final update on this page. On November 19th, 2004, I was at the drive-thru getting my McGriddle breakfast when I noticed that McDonald's had put up a brand new sign. This one is much more hip looking than the dirty old wooden sign. I stopped, rolled down my window and snapped a picture of it. Here it is:
Maybe someday when I'm really bored I'll get out and measure the circumference of this sign, then head to Wal-mart for some yellow posterboard... Actually, I've recently moved a few thousand miles away from this particular McDonald's so there's no chance of me changing this new sign. It was a fun prank, but it's over now and we've moved on to more sinister things, which you can read about on the rest of phonelosers.org.
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If you liked this prank, then you'd probably like our Taco Bell prank too, since it's very similar. In fact, you'd probably even get a chuckle out of our Target prank. After you look at those, just visit our pranks page and take a look at the rest of our shenanigans.