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Burger King's Tone-Deaf Tweet Gets Major Backlash

The chain was criticized for sexism on International Women's Day.

As Burger King learned this week, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. While promoting its scholarship initiative for female chefs, the chain was widely criticized for sexism—and on International Women's Day no less.

At the center of the controversy is a March 8 tweet sent by Burger King U.K. that read, "Women belong in the kitchen." The age-old sexist motto introduced the fast-food chain's campaign aiming to bring attention to the gender gap in the restaurant industry.

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Only 20% of chef positions in the U.K. are filled by women, according to Burger King. In an effort to help bridge the gap, the chain created a scholarship program.

But Burger King's out-of-context tweet sparked a wealth of controversy on Facebook and Twitter. While utilizing shock value is the oldest trick in the advertising playbook, misogyny never lands well.

"Wow not only is this a messed-up attempt at trying to be cheeky, BK UK is just patting itself on the back for giving 'scholarships' for culinary degrees–what they really mean is that they're paying themselves to train more employees for their crappy restaurants. There's nothing noble about anything in this ad– especially the sexist joke," one Facebook user wrote.

Others sought to defend the chain. "I don't know what everyone is so upset about. I think it's clever. They are literally helping women pursue culinary degrees and y'all upset," another commenter said.

While Burger King initially doubled-down on its remarks, its Global Chief Marketing Officer Fer Machado eventually tweeted the brand was "indeed sorry" about the misstep. "The intention behind the activity is actually good," he added.

As of today, Burger King U.K. has deleted the tweet and issued an apology. "We got our initial tweet wrong and we're sorry," the chain wrote. "Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in U.K. kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time."

For more, check out 9 Biggest McDonald's Controversies of 2020. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get all of the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura