Burger King has been found guilty of condoning antisocial behaviour by the UK’s advertising watchdog and been told to ensure future marketing communications do not take a similar approach.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that a Tweet made by the fast-food chain on 18 May of this year, which suggested patrons throw milkshakes at the leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage, was in breach of the code.
The Tweet followed news that a McDonald’s restaurant in Edinburgh had been asked by police to not sell milkshakes, due to the restaurant being located in close proximity to the site of a rally held by Farage, who had recently been hit with a milkshake.
In true McDonald’s-trolling Burger King fashion, the company Tweeted, “Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying”.
Following initial complaints, Burger King then followed up the Tweet with, “We’d never endorse violence – or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people”.
While the ASA did acknowledge the message was “intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events”, the joke was said to have crossed the line.
“Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to “milkshake” Nigel Farage,” the ASA said in its ruling.
“We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”