It may have started as an inappropriate ad in humble New Zealand, however, Burger King’s unfortunate chopsticks campaign has now gone global with threats of country-wide boycotts.
As reported on B&T on Monday, Burger King New Zealand unveiled its latest burger – the Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp. To promote the chickeny treat, its creative agency, VMLY&R, came up with a social media campaign that saw hapless people attempt to eat the burger with oversized chopsticks.
The Instagram campaign was immediately called-out on social media – namely by people of Asian descent – as “racist”, “clumsy”, “primitive” and “stupid”.
The backlash from the campaign has now gone global, with calls for people to boycott Burger King stores in Vietnam.
The hashtag #BurgerKingGetOutOfVietnam is trending on Twitter with people from around the world demanding a boycott of its Vietnamese stores.
How effective that would be remains unclear, as Burger King only has 13 stores in Vietnam that boasts a population of almost 100 million.
As one Twitter user wrote: “It’s time to learn how to respect other cultures, Burger King. You do not deserve a part of our market. If you cannot see how elegant Asian cuisine is, just get out of it.”
And there’s plenty of lessons in the debacle for adland, too.
In a statement sent to B&T, the professor of marketing at Warwick Business School, Qing Wang, said incidents like this often arose from global advertising companies not understanding local, ethnic markets.
“We have seen such a long list of adverts that have caused outrage, you start to wonder whether these brands have lost touch with public sentiment,” Wang said.
“What used to be considered ‘creativity’ is now deemed by many to be ‘bad taste’ or even ‘racist’.
“Last year Dolce and Gabbana cancelled its Shanghai fashion show amid similar accusations of racism after posting videos of a Chinese model eating Italian foods like pizza and pasta with chopsticks. That led to a severe backlash in China, with several retailers pulling the brand’s clothes. It is hard to believe that Burger King has now made the same mistake.
“A common thread that runs through many of these controversies are the stereotypes that these adverts have invoked on ethnic communities.
“While the controversies themselves may come and go, they not only leave a bad taste in the mouth, they leave consumers starting to question whether these adverts are deliberately racist.
“It is clear that Western brands need to infuse more local knowledge into their global strategies,” Wang concluded.
For its part, Burger King in New Zealand has immediately apologised for the campaign and removed it from its social media.
Burger King New Zealand’s general manager of marketing, James Woodbridge, telling the New Zealand Herald the company was “truly sorry” for the ad.
“We are truly sorry that the ad has appeared insensitive to our community. We have removed it and it certainly does not reflect our brand values around diversity and inclusion,” Woodbridge said.
Union, WPP AUNZ’s bespoke national group model created to service Bankwest, has launched a new national brand campaign for the visual-style terms and conditions the financial institution developed with the University of WA in a bid to make T&Cs more engaging for customers. Bankwest has rolled out visual terms and conditions for its Bankwest Easy […]
Adland doesn't appear to function much before 11am, so it's hats off to these early birds who had to set the alarm.
The first ever web series to be funded by both Screen Australia and Film Victoria for TikTok, will launch on May 17. Produced by Hayley Adams and Michelle Melky, and directed by Logan Mucha, Scattered is a new queer drama comprised of 38 x 1-minute daily eps. It follows three best friends, Jules, Sami and […]
Schwartz Media will extend its audio offering with a new culture podcast. Building on the success of its flagship daily news podcast 7am, and it’s growing arts and culture coverage, Schwartz Media is launching new podcast The Culture at the end of the month. Award-winning journalist, editor of 7am and pop-culture obsessive Osman Faruqi will […]
Building a connection with existing customers is just as integral to any marketing strategy as winning new ones, but how do we turn customers into spokespeople for our brands? By Peggy de Lange, VP of international expansion at Fiverr It’s a well-known rule of thumb that it costs 5-times more to get a new customer […]
In the next instalment of the ‘Proudly Ordinary’ campaign for Tooheys Extra Dry, Lion and 72andSunny continue their partnership with work from Vice and Aaron Gocs (Gocsy). Gocsy is a beloved icon of Australian outsider comedy who creates content for Vice and his own broadcast channels. As part of the highly successful ‘Proudly Ordinary’ brand […]