“Women belong in the kitchen,” the account tweeted on IWD. A jarring statement, to say the least. But then the brand continued in a second tweet, “Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career.”
The chain then announced a scholarship program to “help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!”
What was intended as a social media strategy backfired. Most people immediately responded to the first tweet before seeing the others, making the entire thing dead on arrival.
“The engagement on your original tweet—which, again, is literally just a sexist trope—is 527% *higher* than the tweet announcing the scholarship program. Way more people are seeing you validate sexism on #InternationalWomensDay than are learning about your scholarship program,” one user pointed out.
“Today I spent 3 bucks on a newspaper just to have physical evidence of the day Burger King fucked up,” one person posted.
The Burger King U.K. account initially defended the tweet and its reasoning for not deleting it.
But people continued to mock the tone-deaf advertisement and express their concern regarding the misogynistic message.
Eventually, the account tweeted an apology. “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry,” the tweet read. “Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in U.K. kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.”
It continued, “We decided to delete the original tweet after our apology. It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread and we don’t want to leave the space open for that.”
The controversy was completely avoidable. Maybe next time they’ll choose another way to market a new campaign. One user provided a great option.