Good press is hard to generate, especially if a company makes an epic mistake while trying to generate it. In that case, the company gets bad press instead.
Burger King found that out the hard way recently, when they released an ad featuring people eating burgers with massive chopsticks.
Cultural appropriation has been a hot button issue for a while now. Insensitivity is noticed and picked out easily, and it's becoming increasingly more important for companies to watch the kind of media they produce.
After it came under fire for being culturally insensitive, Burger King New Zealand pulled the Instagram ad, but not before they were called out on it.
The ad included the caption:
"Take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City."
While the ad was probably meant to be comical and advertise how good Burger King food is, it did a lot more harm than good.
And what goes up on the internet is forever.
Burger King removed the ad, but the videos are still circulating:
Burger King under fire for 'racist' Vietnamese chopsticks ad www.youtube.com
Burger King issued an apology, stating their ad was:
"Insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion. We have asked our franchisee in New Zealand to remove the ad immediately."
Even thought the ad was pulled, Twitter users shared their own opinions on the matter,
LOL chopsticks amirite?????? Who the hell came up with this? There are a lot of Asian people in NZ, though they p… https://t.co/WhWCAHQ3eu— Catherine Shu (@Catherine Shu)1554506079.0
Social media users in China demanded an apology, saying Burger King had made a mockery of Asian customs and dining… https://t.co/4A2vVuvVWH— 10 News First Perth (@10 News First Perth)1554812671.0
Some responses looked at the commercial from the other side:
People made jokes and asked why an ad involving what was supposed to be a joke was blown out of proportion:
@TIME @AreuCathy So what is the stance on using a fork for sushi?— René (@René)1554825071.0
@TIME This is absurd. It's no different than an Asian individual eating ramen noodles with a fork. Or ,is that not… https://t.co/SDOTs9GreC— Rob Ryan (@Rob Ryan)1554819097.0
@BBC_HaveYourSay Would we see the same reaction if they were instead using forks in an Asian made advert marketed t… https://t.co/IYioRiH5LJ— Paul Flynn (@Paul Flynn)1554824878.0
@BBC_HaveYourSay if you can eat it with a fork (and what fool eats a burger with a fork) you can eat it with chopst… https://t.co/Clf00mioMq— Carmine (@Carmine)1554829055.0
@adage Major criticism? Not really. People manufacturing their own outrage? Absolutely.— 🏴 (@🏴)1554827823.0
Dove and Dolce & Gabbana have had similar missteps in recent years.
In both of those cases, the ads caused damage to the brand.
Dolce and Gabbana in 2018: makes racist ad with chopsticks Burger King in 2019: makes racist ad with BIGGER chopst… https://t.co/QCWGxVgOe8— Philip Chan (@Philip Chan)1554842795.0
Burger King may be facing similar issues as it tries to expand its marketplace.
Burger King opened 100 new restaurants in China, bringing the total to 1,000. However, this could damage the reputation of not only of Burger King, but of the other Restaurant Inc. owned businesses.
Hopefully Burger King, and Restaurant Inc. learn from this mistake and consider their public to heart before their next campaign.
(But if you want to brush up on your chopstick skills, consider investing in a nice set!)