TUESDAY 9 MAR 2021 4:31 PM


PR and comms teams launched social media campaigns to show virtual support for International Women’s Day this year. But Burger King UK suffered a PR disaster after a tweet that intended to highlight the company’s culinary sponsorship scheme, only served to reveal gender inequality among its own board of directors.

Yesterday morning, Burger King UK tweeted ‘Women belong in the kitchen.’ The tweet gave no context surrounding the seemingly misogynistic slander. The same campaign ran in print, but with further information about the company’s efforts to sponsor women working in the food service industry.

While many have deemed the campaign entirely off the mark, others pointed out that it simply does not work in digital format. The tweet was simplistic and gave no context behind the intended brand message. Burger King repackaged the print marketing strategy into a digital format, demonstrating exactly why comms teams must target communications to suit print and digital platforms.

Receiving over 665,000 likes, statistically the tweet received an incredibly high engagement. However many of the likes and comments were showing support, not for International Women’s Day, but for the marginalisation of women in out-dated gender roles.

Defending the intention behind the campaign, Burger King tweeted, “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.”

Despite the intended angle of support for gender inequality, this marketing misjudgement on Burger King’s behalf fuelled further investigation into the brand’s reputation and stance as a gender inclusive organisation. Currently, 11 of the 12 directors of Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King are men. Ecommerce, digital marketing and analytics consultant, Dan Barker says, “It's good that they added Golnar Khosrowshahi to the board in 2018, but there is perhaps a reason Burger King's parent co use text rather than headshots on this page.”

The social campaign has since been deleted, with Burger King UK commenting, “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.’ In return for high engagement from a tweet that was intended as a joke, Burger King suffered widespread damage to its corporate reputation. Many customers have responded online by rejecting the apology and vowing to boycott the brand.