Fast food giant Burger King has pulled a promotional video showing customers attempting to eat burgers with chopsticks after social media users in China accused it of being racist and demanded an apology.
The video, posted on a New Zealand franchisee’s Instagram account, showed Westerners with an oversized chopstick in each hand struggling to eat the company’s new “Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp Burger”.
“The ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion,” Burger King said in a statement.
Burger King, a subsidiary of Toronto-listed Restaurant Brands International, is famous around the world for its Whopper burger.
The company said it asked the franchise to remove the video immediately. The video was deleted from the Instagram account by Tuesday afternoon.
Social media users in China demanded an apology, saying Burger King had made a mockery of Asian customs and dining etiquette.
The hashtag translated as #BurgerKingapology was viewed more than 50 million times on the Twitter-like microblog platform Sina Weibo by late Tuesday.
A clip of the promotional video, posted by New Zealand-based Twitter user @Mariah Mo last week, has been viewed more than 3.3 million times.
So this is the new Burger King ad for a “Vietnamese” burger ok coolcoolcoolcoolcool CHOPSTICKS R HILARIOUS right omg etc 🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃 pic.twitter.com/zVD8CN04Wc
— 마리아. Maria. (@mariahmocarey) April 4, 2019
Ms Mo later tweeted: “I’m so sick of racism. Of any kind. Of the kind that makes fun of different cultures, to the kind that shoots and murders those peacefully praying in their place of worship. Say no to every single manifestation of it.”
Others gave Burger King, which operates 1000 stores in China, the benefit of the doubt.
Weibo user Wang Jiajun posted: “This is just a joke that westerners can’t use chopsticks. Why is it only in recent years that we hear that Chinese people feel discriminated against? Am I meant to get angry?”
Some Chinese media outlets compared the video to one issued by Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana last year, which featured a Chinese model struggling to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks.
Twitter user TatianaKing wrote: “I thought brands learned their lesson after the D&G chopsticks fiasco… then again I’m not surprised.”
Dolce & Gabbana was forced to cancel a fashion show in China and social media users threatened a boycott over the campaign. The brand’s co-founders later asked for forgiveness in a video apology.