Burger King apologises for controversial ‘kitchen’ tweet

The fast food chain Burger King came under heavy fire on Twitter for posting ‘women belong in the kitchen’ as part of a larger female chef initiative. It has now apologised and deleted the original tweet.

On Monday of this week it was International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate and empower women and girls around the world. It’s a special occasion to shout out those who make our lives and the world a better place.

It is not a time to be making jokes based around outdated stereotypes in order to promote your company and brand, though Burger King did just that when it tweeted ‘women belong in the kitchen’ followed by a string of follow up posts outlining its culinary scholarship programme.

The tweet was clearly intended to go viral and stir up discussion. The original post reached over 500K likes and received thousands of replies, including KFC Gaming who advised it was ‘never too late to delete this’.

It seems Burger King eventually took this feedback on board, apologising and removing the tweet, explaining that it wanted to draw attention to female chefs within the industry.

Why did Burger King tweet this in the first place?

Though International Women’s Day shouldn’t be regarded as a marketing opportunity, it is still often used by companies to promote themselves and generate discussion around their services or products.

Burger King’s intentionally risky approach was no doubt a strategy to get people talking and, in that sense, it very much worked. In terms of pure engagement numbers and metrics the campaign was a success – but it comes at the expense of Burger King’s credibility as an equal and fair employer.

Not to mention that these types of campaigns are damaging and distract away from the original intention of International Women’s Day. It is supposed to be a specific moment in which we highlight gender equality, reproductive rights, issues of domestic violence, as well as the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women.

A brand like Burger King using a tired stereotype in order to bait and switch its audience is eye-rolling and reductive, taking attention away from the important work of women and instead focusing on a fast food chain and its tone deaf marketing team.

It feels grossly unnecessary, especially considering this is the UK Twitter account, where female safety and male privilege is at the forefront of mainstream news this week.


What have others said about the original post?

The immediate response from Twitter users was annoyance and weary apathy. Burger King’s branding and marketing is already skewed to be male-centric as it is, so it’s not exactly a huge surprise.

An apology is something at the very least, mind. It’s a shame that even in 2021 brands still can’t see that using tired jokes to attract attention isn’t going to work in the long run, even if retweet numbers improve for a brief period.

The stunt also draws attention to the flaws in social media coverage of serious, weighty issues, namely that 90% of people only saw the original tweet and not the subsequent information on female culinary scholarships. It is very easy to only see a portion of the full picture on any given subject, as demonstrated by the disparity in likes and retweets on the two posts.

Predictably, the entire campaign was mocked and memed endlessly over the coming days.  This one was a particular highlight, creating a fake ‘exclusive look’ at Burger King’s next attempt at viral tweeting that seemingly bashes the LGBTQ+ community before switching it up.

Let’s hope that we see less mistakes like this in future. International Women’s Day is about the people and the political issues of our current day – not silly tweets and marketing blunders.

Hopefully we won’t see a repeat next year, though we should never underestimate the potential of corporations to spectacularly misfire. The sky is the limit in that regard.

@thredmag

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