Burger King UK has been thrown into the social media doghouse after tweeting ”women belong in the kitchen” to mark International Women’s Day.
Intended as a light-hearted dig at the gender disparity in its restaurants, where only 20% of chefs are women, the tweet instead left many choking on their burgers as an avalanche of comments and tweets duly followed.
Faced with the swift and vocal backlash, Burger King initially defended its multi-tweet strategy, which it said was intended to spark discussion around gender inequality in the restaurant trade, before eventually backing down.
How did this happen?
Burger King marked International Women’s Day with a series of tweets, the first of which stated ”women belong in the kitchen”, provoking an immediate and intense Twitter-storm.
The contentious post heralded a flurry of follow up messages designed to undermine the aforementioned stereotype, but not before the damage had been done.
Follow-up messages to the offending tweet set out this broader context of a disparity in sexes and the launch of a new scholarship program.
Buried in the outrage, these tweets read: ”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.”
”We are proud to be launching a new scholarship program which will help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!”
What did Burger King say?
Explaining its actions, a spokesperson for the fast-food chain said: ”It was our intention to undermine an outdated stereotype about women and reclaim the terminology in order to highlight a big problem in the restaurant industry – that women occupy only 20% of chef positions in UK restaurants today, which we believe is offensive.”
Backing up its words with actions, Burger King has also established a scholarship program for female staff interested in attaining a culinary qualification.
How did people react?
If Burger King had intended to provoke a response then it succeeded, with thousands of people jumping on the tweet with likes and retweets while the following messages went largely ignored.
Most had beef with the deliberately provocative nature of the message, describing it as a ”bad PR” day and ”the worst PR move of all time”.
Fast-food rivals couldn’t resist weighing in either, with KFC’s official gaming account tweeting a mocking meme in response: ”The best time to delete this post was immediately after posting it. The second best time is now.”
— KFC Gaming (@kfcgaming) March 8, 2021
What is the company saying now?
With the storm showing no sign of abating, Burger King had a change of heart, deleting the offending tweet and apologizing for the offense caused.
In a contrite follow-up tweet, the chain wrote: ”We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry.”
”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.”