Burger King slammed for ‘racist’ advertisement

By Zhang Xingjian and Shen Weiduo Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/9 14:43:52

A screenshot of the slammed Burger King ad Photo: Sina Weibo

US fast food giant Burger King has removed an advertisement and apologized after it was accused by many netizens of racism for mocking people who eat with chopsticks.

"The ad is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion. We have asked our franchisee in New Zealand to remove it immediately," read a statement Burger King sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. 

James Woodbridge, general manager for marketing of Burger King New Zealand, apologized earlier, saying the ad has appeared insensitive to the community the company serves, according to media reports. 

The video clip, aiming to promote a new product, the Vietnamese Sweet Chili Tendercrisp burger in New Zealand, features several customers struggling to eat the burger while using a pair of over-sized chopsticks. 

The advertisement was released on the company's New Zealand Instagram account with the caption, "Take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City with our Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp." 

The video went viral and sparked a debate among netizens on social media, especially those of Asian descent.

As of press time, the hashtag Burger King's new ad accused of racism, had been read more than 170 million times on Sina Weibo, making it one of the hottest posts on Tuesday.

Many Chinese netizens complained that foreign brands are often culturally insensitive, warning  them to learn about local custom before launching an ad campaign.

"Racism can take many forms, and I'm sick of it. If Burger King wants to expand business in Asia, then it should be mindful of moves that can lead to misinterpretation," a netizen wrote. 

"The ad is the latest example of racism and prejudice, as obviously chopsticks are not the best choice to eat hamburgers with. But fast food giants like Burger King make such a stupid mistake, because some Western companies are just so self-righteous about boasting their own values," another netizen added. 

Some comments said they don't think Burger King meant any harm. "We cannot push everything to suggest racial discrimination, and Asians should be self-confident of their own culture," was one of the most liked comments on Sina Weibo.

It's not the first time that Burger King has faced controversy in a promotional ad. Last year, the brand apologized for its Russian World Cup ad that offered free burgers and money to women who were made pregnant by World Cup soccer players.

Burger King's current blunder echoes the debacle caused by Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana in its advertisement posted in November. It featured an Asian-looking model struggling to eat pizza and pasta with chopsticks.

Though the two founders of Dolce & Gabbana issued an official apology, the incident has dented the brand's image in China, one of its largest markets. 

Posted in: SOCIETY

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