All posts tagged: McDonalds

Vegan Activist Artists Don’t Sell Burgers : Louis Masai Speaks Out About Beef

Vegan Activist Artists Don’t Sell Burgers : Louis Masai Speaks Out About Beef

It’s just the irony of it; A guy who makes art in the streets to raise awareness about endangered species has his mural of a bog turtle used to sell burgers and bacon on a bagel by a fast food company that has been regularly accused over many years of creating deforestation that’s caused by cattle production.

McDonald’s of course, didn’t make or contribute much to this graffiti/Street Art/mural scene, nor did they take any time to understand it. Creative culture vultures everywhere know that it is far easier just to seize other people’s work and slap it into a product than to do the homework. If they’d talked to Louis Masai, they would have gotten an earful.

Preliminary signs point to a lot of people not knowing how Street Artists work would have ended up airing without permission in the newest campaign for McDonald’s in Netherlands that purrs with pride over its connection to real street flava in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. AdWeek displayed the videos in an article discussing the campaign, but mysteriously the videos have disappeared from that posting and the McDonald’s YouTube channel. The Street Art blog Vandalog had an article about the matter yesterday, and perhaps that fire added to the unbearable heat in McD’s kitchen, as it were.

Naturally on social media posts fingers have been furiously pointing at Joe Ficalora of the Bushwick Collective because he appears giving a tour in the long-form “documentary” style ads that were made by the creative agency who was producing the campaign. In the montages of images, voices, and music you see interviews with four early NYC graffiti writers and one Brazilian street artist  – each of whom Joe invited and who created work for the campaign.

People are quick to pounce and surmise and pontificate about who got paid and what everyone’s good and bad intentions were – and then extrapolate outward into discussions around gentrification, cultural hegemony, parasitic behaviors, selling out a culture, etc. We don’t know for sure what all those details are so we’ll stop short of making accusations at the moment – much will come out in lawsuits going forward no doubt – and really we’re supposed to be writing an intro here…

The thing we do know for sure is there were a lot of shots of other works in those videos by artists – including from another community wall initiative named JMZ Walls – who are all saying that they were never contacted nor did they give McDonald’s permission to use their work in promoting McD’s. This group includes Louis Masai, who writes an editorial essay today here about what his experience was, what his personal opinions are and what he thinks about using his artwork to sell burgers.


McDonalds x Bushwick Collective

by Louis Masai

Right now I should be painting, I have a solo show coming up. Instead my mind is over consumed by the frustration and outrage of an advert that was brought to my attention mid Friday afternoon by another artist.

He said to go check my Facebook or Instagram account, that McDonalds had just released what has to be one of the most culturally thieving adverts I have ever seen. After 3:37 minutes, for almost 4 seconds, there it was; my mural of a New York state, endangered bog turtle.

My mural is now advertising a New York bagel beef burger and I am not loving it.

A screenshot of Louis Masai’s bog turtle in Bushwick from the Dutch advertisement for McDonald’s. This was the first in a 3 month cross country mural program Louis did which BSA followed from beginning to end.
See One Artist’s Mission to Save Endangered Species: Louis Masai Completes “The Art Of Beeing” Tour.

For those that are unaware of my work – I paint about endangered species; I use public walls with granted permissions to highlight issues such as biodiversity, the sixth mass extinction, deforestation, and climate change. I am also a vegan. So even if McDonalds had asked me if I minded to be included in their campaign, I would have told them where to shove that bun with a hole. Today, Monday March 13th, after over an hour on the phone talking with the founder of the Bushwick Collective, the three adverts have been removed from the Internet – for now.

Why was I so outraged by all this? Here’s why: The Amazon was the place that inspired scientists to coin the term “biodiversity.” The region is home to 10 percent of all plant and animal species known on Earth. There are approximately 40,000 species of plants, more than 400 mammals, almost 1,300 Birds, and millions of insects. All this life depends on each other and cows are not one of those 400 mammals, according to

The production of beef is, without question, the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon, with figures ranging from 65 to 70 percent of all deforestation in the area from 2000 to 2005. However these numbers account only for the areas cleared for the creation of pastures, and they fail to include the food being produced for cattle consumption.

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies stipulates that Brazil alone has 24 to 25 million hectares devoted to the production of soy, 80 percent of which would end up as animal feed. These numbers all contribute to the consensus that the primary reason for rainforest deforestation in the Amazon can be attributed to the beef industry, according to


A screenshot that gives that Brooklyn flava from the McDonald’s commercial

McDonalds sells beef burgers, a lot of them. In fact in 2015, despite not being able to disclose exactly how many burgers they sell each year, as this is ‘commercially sensitive information’, it was reported that they expected to sell over 91 million of the world famous Big Mac sandwiches. Who really knows where that hip-hop, New York bagel beef came from? That is why I am outraged that my painting was aired in an advert for McDonalds.

We live in a world where things are perpetually looked at in the wrong light. Think about the text message that you misinterpreted or the tweet that you didn’t manage to squeeze in all the right words for. We live in a “judge me” society, and I’m not favourable of being twinned with a conglomerate company that is directly associated, past or present, with the destruction of biodiversities, lost species and communities.




 Portions of another public mural initiative in Brooklyn called JMZ Walls also appear in the commercials.

The fast-food giant announced in 2015 it would be working with its suppliers to end deforestation in its global supply chain. But how much of that is effective? And how aware is the general public? Whether my point of opinions are correct or not, that doesn’t excuse the fact that McDonalds is not a “sustainable” business; they do not help the environment in a meaningful way, and they definitely have a horrendous past track record. These facts I do know.

I also know, the Bushwick Collective allowed McDonalds to have ownership of my artwork and the sharing of my mural on the Internet, even if that did only last 5 days. Why did Bushwick Collective allow for something that they didn’t own the rights for to pass on in the first place, to be sold? It was an insult to me as a vegan, a violation of my artistic rights and somewhat dark waters for the correlation of my works context.

Screenshot of wall by artist LMNOPI, which was done as a result of a private agreement with the landlord.

McDonalds, cowing back to the depths of its shadows, probably due to concerns of legality, removes the issue of copyright infringement but does it remove their intent to exploit a cherished culture. I am sure that this is not the end of the issue as a whole but for now, I hope that this is a warning to others. Artists are not to be taken advantage of anymore, we will not tolerate it and we will fight back.

Now I’m worried about what is next to come. Should I be watching out for Monsanto to use my bee paintings in a ‘documentary’?

The opinions expressed by Mr. Masai are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorz.

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“The Wack Donald’s Project” and Mr OneTeas

“The Wack Donald’s Project” and Mr OneTeas

The actual street and the digital version of it are now intrinsically linked and often if you see new occurrences of street art it takes just a bit of searching online to find out more about the artist and what they are up to. This week we were surprised to find these posters that incorporate Ronald McDonald into their messaging, and to find out how they appear to be marketed just as thoroughly through social media online.

It’s all about the subtleties of course, and many street artists leave a breadcrumb of clues digitally to lead you to their work on the street or in the gallery or on a t-shirt.  And everyone is familiar with large “urban” brands that traverse the transgressive vibe through adroit social messaging that invariably leads to a product you may purchase. Nonetheless, sometimes it gets very confusing.


Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A French illustrator/painter/graphic designer from Nice who also has had shows in galleries in Monaco, Mr OneTeas is known to some as a graffiti artist who samples pop culture on his canvasses and appropriates commonly recognizable images of Hollywood names like Liz Taylor, Princess Grace, and Alfred Hitchcock. He also presents 80s television culture ironically (spotlighting Gary Coleman, Alf, Mr. T), inverts meanings with global brand logos, critiques consumerist culture, and interprets his subjects using the visual language of street art and the commercial finesse of artists such as Mr. Brainwash, for example.


Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

That said, some people on the street here have been intrigued by these posters with the Mr OneTeas name on them which have popped up on street walls around Brooklyn appearing to skewer the fast food giant and consumerism – both because it has been a little while since we’ve seen a satirical bashing of a world brand on the street and because mroneteas appears to be so publicly documenting it on his Instagram and Facebook page.

If you consider the artist name as a brand (for the sake of argument), this is culture-jamming that is being re-jammed; a guerilla-advertising campaign-style series of postering that attacks a huge brand and is critical of consumerism which then employs common social media advertising techniques of promotion to get its message out. Is this still détournement?

In a brief email interview with the artist we learned that “The Wack Donald’s Project” began in 2011 when he first merged the Mona Lisa with Ronald McDonald. Influenced by the documentary “Supersize Me,” Mr OneTeas says that his illustrations began to equate the ubiquity of the friendly clown in the minds of children as something far more sinister than he originally thought.


Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“McDonald’s use Ronald the clown and they made him so friendly and attractive for the children customers,” he says. Describing the piece entitled, “Ronald’s Daughter / My Father Is A Terrorist,” the artist says, “Today we all are scared about terrorism, suspecting everybody around us, but no one is suspecting McDonalds to hurt us. We’ve been conditioned by it because we have grown up with it, and now if you’re looking at the Mc D restaurant world map, you will be surprised that they are everywhere.”

He says he started his campaign last month in Prague and this month he was in New York with five more posters. But the New York campaign was just a small one. “100 different Wack Donald’s characters are waiting to pop up, each one chosen for special reasons for different countries.” You can expect the social campaign will also follow the postering campaign closely because Mr OneTeas considers the fast food to be on par with tobacco. “On the cigarette packs in France you can read ‘Smoking Kills’. My thoughts are that I would like to make people realize that eating junk food can kill as well,” he says.

Guess we’ll just have to follow his Instagram to see how the campaign progresses.


Mr. OneTeas (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Check out more on the artists Instagram page, which says “Mr OneTeas (ARTIST) Graffiti, Street Art, Recycler The Wack Donald’s Project…”



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This article is also published on The Huffington Post.


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