Burger King apologized this week for its International Women's Day campaign touting a scholarship fund for female chefs with the message that "women belong in the kitchen."
The fast-food chain stirred up controversy first with a Twitter thread from Burger King UK with the controversial message, followed up with the condition: "If they want to, of course. Yet only 20 percent 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 message was ultimately promoting the Burger King H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship, which, according to the chain, "has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to support female team members in achieving their educational goals." The tweets have since been deleted. A similar message appeared at the top of a full-page ad in The New York Times on Monday.
Though the message was progressive, its purposely attention-grabbing headline seems to have backfired, as many pointed out that the chain used a common sexist trope to try and turn heads.
By Monday afternoon, the chain apologized on its UK Twitter account, saying that it "got our initial tweet wrong," and explaining that why it chose to delete the tweet.
Burger King also issued a statement to Insider on the matter:
Our tweet in the UK 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.
Linda Tuncay Zayer, a marketing professor at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago, explained to The Washington Post why this particular campaign, though likely well-intentioned, may have fallen flat: “Burger King doesn’t have authority on gender equality, and then you couple that with a bad trope, and it was a recipe for disaster.”
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