This Is Why Everyone's Mad at Burger King Right Now
The chain's major misstep has fans incensed and they've since apologized for the error.
Monday was International Women's Day, an occasion many companies used as a means of announcing new initiatives that benefit women and girls. Google announced that it would be contributing $25 million to the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, which will provide up to $2 million to "organizations creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls." Netflix announced the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which will invest $5 million in its first year to "help identify, train and provide work placements for up-and-coming female talent around the world." And Burger King? Well, the fast food giant celebrated with a campaign deemed so offensive, people demanded an apology—and some even threatened to boycott. Read on to discover what Burger King did that has people so incensed. And for more stores facing serious controversy, This Is Why People Are Now Boycotting Trader Joe's.
The chain tweeted, "Women belong in the kitchen."
On International Women's Day, the Burger King U.K. Twitter account sent out a message that had followers outraged: "Women belong in the kitchen." Intended to parody the sexist trope that women should seek a life of domesticity, the statement was quickly followed by a string of tweets providing some context to the seemingly offensive message. And for more up-to-the-minute news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The brand was actually trying to highlight its new scholarship fund.
The tweets that followed provided some context to the message. "If they want to, of course," the brand wrote. "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 company promised to provide scholarships and career development opportunities to female-identifying employees in order to help them secure jobs in the culinary industry.
But the damage was already done. Twitter users replied accusing Burger King of using sexism as clickbait, and explaining to the brand that "using the most sexist trope ever" isn't the best way to draw attention to the cause. And for more restaurant news, This Popular Pizza Chain Just Filed for Bankruptcy.
The brand also took out a massive print ad with the message.
Burger King also took out a full-page ad in The New York Times using the same slogan. Below the controversial phrasing, the company wrote, "Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there's a professional kitchen, women belong there."
The brand went on to explain that only 24 percent of U.S. chefs are women, and that women only hold 7 percent of head chef roles stateside. The Burger King Culinary Scholarship, they wrote, would help bridge the gender gap in the industry.
"Because every woman with a passion deserves the chance to advance, whether it's in a culinary school, a Burger King kitchen, or any other kitchen in the world," the ad stated.
The Twitter account and Burger King executives have since apologized for the message.
In response to the swift backlash, Burger King U.K. posted an apology: "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."
Executives also apologized for the phrasing used in the tweet and ad, explaining that the company's intentions were good. "In the end we are indeed doing something positive, but the headline we used ended up offending people, especially when used without the context around it," Burger King Global CMO Fernando Machado, who also serves as CMO for Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, told Forbes. "Hopefully over time, thanks to the actions we are taking and will continue to take, people will see that our intention was positive."
The chain has since deleted the tweet.
After posting the apology, Burger King U.K. decided to take the tweet down, explaining that followers had begun leaving "abusive" messages in the replies. However, many commenters continued to call on other followers to avoid purchasing food from the restaurant. And for more chains facing customer backlash for a very different reason, This Online Store Has the Worst Customer Service in America.