Look, we get it. Pretty much every brand on the planet was doing something, anything, to mark International Women's Day yesterday – and marketing teams often have to think outside the box to get noticed. But if you are going to get noticed, it had better be for the right reasons – something Burger King is currently learning the hard way.
In an attempt to flip one of the oldest sexist tropes on its head, Burger King tweeted "Women belong in the kitchen". That's it. That's the tweet. Unsurprisingly, it was met with anger and bemusement from the burger pedlar's thousands of followers. Many of the best print ads are somewhat provocative, but went down like a lead burger.
If, like countless commenters, you're wondering how Burger King's marketing team managed to convince itself this was a good idea, the company tried to explain in subsequent tweets. "Only 20% of chefs are women," one reads. "We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees." The company says it is launching a new scholarship programme to help female Burger King employees pursue their "culinary dreams".
It sounds like an admirable initiative, which makes it all the more baffling that Burger King chose to reveal it through the king of all marketing blunders: a dodgy tweet. Indeed, rather than the company's actual pledge, around 99.999 per cent of responses appear to be focussed on the seemingly sexist opening gambit.
yo burger king PR department. do you think there might be a problem with the first tweet reaching 15 times as many eyeballs as the second pic.twitter.com/Y7CQhGNpfeMarch 8, 2021
You got any idea how many people are only gonna look at the first one/see screenshots of it without the second one? lmaoSomeone in the marketing department doesn't understand Twitter very wellMarch 8, 2021
It's not necessary to use a shitty sexist joke to spread a good cause. Maybe just lead with the good work you're trying to accomplish and leave the rest in the bin https://t.co/lVXXBlL8GsMarch 8, 2021
You could’ve fit everything into one tweet https://t.co/3CnQo4sVjG pic.twitter.com/Fa2TiMThjsMarch 8, 2021
pic.twitter.com/QmJiwOGgZZMarch 8, 2021
As many have pointed out, a lot more people are going to see the first tweet than the second and third, seeing as it has thousand upon thousands more retweets. And that, folks, is why it's probably a good idea to include the key information in your first tweet. (Check out our top social media tips for more wisdom where that came from.)
And now, of course, Burger King has apologised. Just like McDonald's with its tasteless coronavirus-inspired logo change last year, the fast food chain has admitted (below) that it got this dead wrong. The original tweet has since been deleted.
We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.March 8, 2021
What makes the misfire even more confusing is that Burger King is usually pretty spot-on when it comes to marketing. The company's 'mouldy Whopper' ad was a clever swipe at McDonalds which also managed to sweep up various advertising awards in 2020, and we loved the sizzling new rebrand Burger King unveiled earlier this year. But this? Like everyone else, we'll be filing it under 'absolute shockers'.
For an example of a brand getting International Women's Day right, take a look at Lego's new poster campaign. And if you're looking for more inspiration, check out these 5 women hitting new creative heights in 2021.