Burger King dubbed 'sexist' for 'women belong in the kitchen' post as Women's Day scholarship campaign backfires
Burger King attempted to draw attention to the male-dominated culinary world on International Women's Day, but the campaign backfired and the food chain was criticized for sexism instead.
The burger chain posted on its United Kingdom account on Monday, March 8, morning, writing, "Women belong in the kitchen." In a follow-up tweet, the company added, "If they want to, of course." The post was taken down following the backlash.
“Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career,” the fast-food giant wrote, before announcing it was launching a scholarship to ”help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!” The post was taken down following the backlash.
The overall message was supportive of women, but Burger King UK received considerable backlash for its tweet. Due to the tweet format it chose, many only saw the first tweet in the thread and misinterpreted what the brand meant. One Twitter user noted how this could have been easily avoided if the first two posts were combined into one tweet, which was possible. Meanwhile, others pointed out that the "Women belong in the kitchen" post had received much more attention than the scholarship program revealed in subsequent tweets.
One user said, "Burger King be like “Let’s be sexist to get the clicks”." Another said, "i dont care if burger kings tweet was a joke, sexist jokes arent that funny tbh. your burgers taste like literal ass and your chicken nuggets are stale, id rather eat shit."
Proof this could have even fit in one tweet— Becca (@BeccaBeckery) March 8, 2021
Please don't use sexism as clickbait. The men in my mentions proves the damage you're causing by doing this. pic.twitter.com/G0VKGgiZQp
The engagement on your original tweet—which, again, is literally just a sexist trope—is 527% *higher* than the tweet announcing the scholarship program.— Kendall Brown (@kendallybrown) March 8, 2021
Way more people are seeing you validate sexism on #InternationalWomensDay than are learning about your scholarship program. pic.twitter.com/wMH2Drvomc
Burger King be like “Let’s be sexist to get the clicks”— ѕρσяк✨🦢 (@usefulspork) March 8, 2021
i dont care if burger kings tweet was a joke, sexist jokes arent that funny tbh. your burgers taste like literal ass and your chicken nuggets are stale, id rather eat shit 😁— amelia (@sootpit) March 8, 2021
That said, the first tweet was purely meant as a marketing gimmick. In fact, the brand bought a full-page ad in The New York Times with “Women belong in the kitchen” written in giant letters. The company provided the full context in fine print below the ad.
However, Burger King sparked outrage on social media, even from its rivals. The gaming account of Kentucky Fried Chicken tweeted at the burger chain to take down its tweet. It read, "The best time to delete this post was immediately after posting it. The second best time is now."
Meanwhile, others noted that the controversial post had received much more attention than the post announcing the scholarship program. Speaking to Today, a Burger King spokesperson said the company had made a "mistake" in announcing the initiative using that format. "We are committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants — and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we’re trying to help fix," the spokesperson said. "Our tweet in the U.K. today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women. It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity."
Burger King UK also responded to those questioning the joke on social media, including KFC, which posted a meme saying the tweet should be deleted. "Why would we delete a tweet that's been drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you'd be on board with this as well?" asked the chain, adding, "We've launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career."
Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you’d be on board with this as well? We've launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021
"Women belong in the kitchen. They belong in fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, BK Restaurant kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, and ghost kitchens," the company told Today. "But there's a problem — women occupy only 7 percent of head chef positions in restaurants today. So Burger King is going to do something about it in their own kitchens."
Burger King UK eventually apologized on Twitter.
We decided to delete the original tweet after our apology. 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.— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021