On Monday, on the account of International Women's Day, a tweet from Burger King UK that read "women belong in the kitchen" was condemned and had received backlash.
Further, in a series of subsequent threaded tweets, the fast-food giant highlighted the lack of female chefs in the restaurant business.
“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. #IWD” the brand tweeted. “We are proud to be launching a new scholarship programme which will help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!”, the thread continued.
This tweet was associated with the advertisement placed by the food company in the New York Times which drew attention to the same cause of fixing the gender ratio in the restaurant industry.
However, the approach utilized by the brand, i.e. the use of sexism as a clickbait was widely criticized and the brand failed to serve the point. Hence, boycott started on social media, which compelled Burger King to delete the tweet and issue an apology.
The apology read, “We will do better next time.” They also issued a clarification adding: “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.”
Despite the apology and the motive behind the tweets of Burger King, several on the internet were quick to reject this idea of casual sexism on the ad campaign.
A Twitter account linked with KFC tweeted that Burger King should have deleted the tweet immediately after posting it. "Why would we delete a tweet that's drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry," Burger King replied.
Events also took a different viral turn when a Twitter user posted fake spoof tweets of corresponding food chain brands with problematic messages.
Tami Kim, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia had researched extensively on the advertisement techniques employed by brands. She thus explained how the approach of Burger King was flawed as even though the initiative was a way to promote female employees, it failed as they relied on the trope of women as domestic housewives.
She said, “Even if they didn’t intend to actually offend any woman out there and they have a really good program that they want to market, the damage is already done,” Kim said. “At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what their intent was because it’s ultimately up to the consumers to decide.”