Burger King pulls New Zealand chopsticks ad after outcry in China and grilling on social media

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April 10, 2019 10:29:58

A New Zealand Burger King franchisee has taken down a promotional video showing customers trying to eat burgers with chopsticks after it sparked a huge online outcry and demands for an apology.

Key points:

  • Burger King asked the franchisee to immediately remove the video
  • The company said the ad didn’t reflect its “brand values regarding diversity and inclusion”
  • Social media said the outlet had made a mockery of Asian dining etiquette

The video, posted on the franchisee’s Instagram account, showed Westerners with a giant red chopstick in each hand struggling to eat the company’s new Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp Burger.

The ad was captioned: “Take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City.”

Burger King said it asked the franchisee to remove the video immediately, and it was deleted from the Instagram account by Tuesday afternoon.

“The ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion,” Burger King said in a statement.

Social media users in China demanded an apology, saying Burger King had made a mockery of Asian customs and dining etiquette.

The hashtag “Burger King apology” had been viewed more than 50 million times on the Twitter-like microblog platform Sina Weibo by Tuesday afternoon.

There were some social media users who gave Burger King, which operates 1,000 stores in China, the benefit of the doubt.

“I am not sure if this is truly racial discrimination. But the people who made the ad really do not have brains,” said one commentator on Weibo.

‘Chopsticks are hilarious right’

New Zealander Mariah Mo flagged the ad last week and reposted it on Twitter, saying: “Chopsticks are hilarious right”.

“I’m so sick of racism. Of any kind. Of the kind that makes fun of different cultures, to the kind that shoots and murders those peacefully praying in their place of worship. Say no to every single manifestation of it,” she tweeted.

Other social media commentators noted that the sweet chilli sauce used in the chain’s new “Vietnamese” burger was probably more common in Thailand.

Dolce & Gabbana apology after chopsticks ad

Chinese media outlets compared the Burger King video to one issued by Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana last year, which featured a Chinese model struggling to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks.

Dolce & Gabbana was forced to cancel a fashion show in China after it was released and social media users threatened a boycott over the campaign.

The brand’s co-founders later asked for forgiveness in a video apology, saying: “We love your culture and we certainly have much to learn.

“That is why we are sorry if we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves.”

Burger King is a subsidiary of Toronto-listed Restaurant Brands International.

Reuters/ABC

Topics:

business-economics-and-finance,

industry,

advertising-and-marketing,

information-and-communication,

advertising,

food-and-beverage,

community-and-society,

race-relations,

new-zealand,

china



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