Burger King draws ire with ‘racist’ social media ad

A promo for a Vietnamese-inspired offering from its New Zealand faction depicted customers clumsily manipulating chopsticks. Online users were not amused. The chain has apologized.

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In marketing, ill-conceived attempts at humor can bite you on the backside. Just ask Burger King.

The fast-food chain is the latest company to stray over the wavy line between lighthearted snark and cultural insensitivity. As this incident shows, even a misstep in a distant location can ripple globally.

Burger King New Zealand’s Instagram feed posted an ad featuring customers using cartoonish chopsticks to eat a Vietnamese-themed sandwich.

It was intended to amuse. Instead, the message was widely seen as offensive and lazy, illustrating the nebulous terrain that brand managers must navigate to avoid online backlash. The company quickly apologized, but the heat has persisted.


That was just part of the pushback.

The Guardian wrote:

The fast food chain faced a huge online backlash after an advert was posted to Burger King New Zealand’s Instagram depicting westerners attempting to eat the new “Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp Burger” with comically giant red chopsticks.

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