Burger King UK was grilled on social media for its tweet during International Women's Day saying "Women belong in the kitchen," as critics lambasted the fast food chain for using sexism as clickbait.
The now deleted tweet was part of a thread that was repurposed from a full-page newspaper ad that ran in The New York Times on International Women’s Day, promoting the fast food chain’s scholarship for female chefs.
The initial tweet said, “Women belong in the kitchen” without context.
It was followed by another tweet that gave light to what the brand was trying to get across. “If they want to, of course. 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.”
(When one goes to the fast food chain’s Instagram account, the same post is translated to an image that says “Women belong in the kitchen” in bold letters, and followed by “Yet women make up only 20% of chefs” in a smaller font, which provided more context compared to the tweet.)
Social media users quickly pounced on the tweet, criticizing the company for its campaign.
“This is such a weird tweet, how did this get through higher ups,” said one Twitter user. Another one quipped, “This post just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Just like your food.”
One Twitter user recreated the tweet to prove a point that the entire message could fit in one tweet and said, “Please don’t use sexism as clickbait.”
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The brand also tried to respond to those who expressed disappointment with the tweet. A twitter user said, “Somebody working at Burger King really looked at this and thought it was a good idea.” To which, the company’s UK Twitter account responded, “To bring attention to the huge lack of female representation in the restaurant industry? Yeah, we think it’s a good idea. That’s why we’ve created a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.”
Others also pointed out that the Burger King Foundation’s HER Scholarship for female employees mentioned in the ad appears to only offer two $25,000 scholarships per country (which includes the UK, US, Mexico and Brazil), which is said to be a smaller amount compared to how much the company spent in its marketing strategy for the campaign.
However, there were those who praised the fast food chain saying the tweet was a “brilliant marketing strategy,” while another got the message, “Point made. Let’s have more chefs.”
Are you rounding up copies of all the print advertisements too? It is simply too late ... the train has left the station my friend. How about this, start by creating an environment where people truly understand that this is never okay. This is not a strategy, this is just sad. pic.twitter.com/OdR6dry1iV— Jon Falk (@jonRfalk) March 8, 2021
Following the backlash, Burger King UK tweeted an apology, while the initial tweet was still live. “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.”
After the apology, the company said it decided to delete the original tweet as “it was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the threat and we don’t want to leave the space open for that.”
"We are committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world's fine dining restaurants—and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we're trying to help fix," Burger King spokesperson Adrianna Lauricella said in an e-mail.
"Our tweet in the UK today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women. It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we're sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity," she added. —With reports from ANI