Fast food chain Burger King has come under fire (and we're not talking about their flame-broiled burgers!) after an attempt to highlight gender disparity in the restaurant industry went terribly wrong.
On Monday, March 8, which happens to be International Women’s Day, Burger King U.K. tweeted, “Women belong in the kitchen,” followed by subsequent tweets aiming to point out the lack of female chefs in the industry. “If they want to, of course,” another tweet read.
“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 burger chain wrote.
The first tweet was no accident, Burger King also took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, with the same message. “Women belong in the kitchen” was in giant font with the further context in small print below.
Just a little advice.— 🏳️🌈 Art Grandpa 🏳️🌈 (@ArtsyGrandpa) March 8, 2021
This is how not to promote something. Most people wont read the thread and took this as Burger King being sexist.
And they are literally using women as a marketing tool by purposely offending people.
This is super sleazy and gross. pic.twitter.com/3Z7SUunwth
People were outraged with the fast food giant's tweet, claiming the messaging was perpetuating sexism. “This is how not to promote something. Most people wont read the thread and took this as Burger King being sexist,” one user wrote, adding: “And they are literally using women as a marketing tool by purposely offending people. This is super sleazy and gross.”
Burger King had the perfect setup to go with Burger Queen for the day but chose to publicly execute their social media people instead.— Anthony (@BigJigglyPanda) March 8, 2021
Another user wondered why the company didn’t go with the more obvious route: change its name to “Burger Queen” for the day. While a third wrote, “Now who told Burger King using a sexist tweet as click bait on IWD was a good idea?”
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.— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021
After backlash, Burger King decided to delete the initial tweet and issue an apology. “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry,” the statement read. “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.” Burger King is launching a new scholarship program aimed at female employees to “pursue their culinary dreams.”
In a statement Monday afternoon, the burger chain admitted the tweet was "designed to draw attention."
"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," a spokesperson said, emphasizing it is "committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture."
Scroll through to see more reactions from Burger King U.K.’s tweet.
Bad day for the royal family, especially the Burger King— Washington Post TikTok Guy 🤹🏼♂️ (@davejorgenson) March 8, 2021
How did Burger King think THAT was a good marketing idea? Like they tried that stupid “donating to streamers” thing that was awful, and now this? They need a whole new marketing team, cause that was so tone deaf it hurt— Scott Smajor (@Smajor1995) March 8, 2021