Burger King gets the stick for using chopsticks in TV ad

By Phan Anh   April 10, 2019 | 05:01 pm PT
Fast food chain Burger King has attracted a lot of social media criticism over a TV ad using chopsticks.

The advertisement, which shows the use of chopsticks to eat burgers, has been called "racist" and "disrespectful."

It shows people trying to eat burgers with pairs of red, oversized chopsticks, and was first posted on the brand’s Instagram account in New Zealand earlier this week.

"Take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City with our Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp, part of our Tastes of the World Range," the ad said.

The Burger King advert in question. Courtesy of Instagram

The Burger King advert in question. Courtesy of Instagram

However, it attracted a backlash on the internet, with many saying the ad was racist and making fun of Asian cultures, where people regularly use chopsticks to eat.

"What’s worse, this ad or using chopsticks in your hair?" tweeted Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer-winning Vietnamese-American author.

"So this is the new Burger King ad for a ‘Vietnamese’ burger ok coolcoolcoolcoolcool CHOPSTICKS R HILARIOUS right omg etc," said Twitter user Maria Mo in New Zealand, sharing a clip of the advert, BBC reported.

"I'm so sick of racism of any kind. Of the kind that makes fun of different cultures. Say no to every single manifestation of it," she tweeted again.

On Burger King Vietnam’s Facebook fanpage, Vietnamese also shared expressed dissatisfaction.

"Chopsticks aren’t just used in Vietnam, but also in many other Asian countries. For us, they are more than a simple tool, but a cultural artifact that is beautiful, humble yet familiar..." wrote Tran Minh Duong.

"It is ridiculous that Burger King disrespects Eastern cultures, a big corporation that disrespect its own customers who help Burger King grow. This is worthy of a boycott. Hope this is a big enough lesson for Burger King to show a better understanding of cultural values.

"But for now, please never show up in Vietnam again," Duong wrote, ending the comment with the hashtag #BurgerKingGetOutofVietnam.

"I will tell my friends and my acquaintances about what you did and encourage them to boycott your products," wrote Vo Tu.

The chain also received a flurry of 1-star ratings on Google following the advertisement's release.

Faced with the backlash, Burger King pulled the advert from its media channels and issued a public apology.

"The ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion. We have asked our franchisee in New Zealand to remove the ad immediately," said the chain in a statement to People magazine.

Echoing this, Burger King New Zealand’s chief marketing officer James Woodbridge told the New Zealand Herald: "We are truly sorry that the ad has appeared insensitive to our community. We have removed and it certainly does not reflect our brand values around diversity and inclusion."

Burger King entered the Vietnamese market in 2011, and has opened 13 stores in the country as of last year, a figure dwarfed by its 16,000 global locations, CNBC reported.

This isn’t the first time a Western brand has been accused of racism in an advertising campaign. Last year, Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana had to cancel a show in Shanghai, China and issue a public apology after an advert video posted on the brand’s social media channels, showing a woman eating pizza with chopsticks, sparked an outcry in the country.

go to top