Burger chain Z-Burger is being universally panned for using the beheading photograph of slain American photographer, James Foley, to advertise its products, PetaPixel reports.
In a distasteful advertisement that appeared on the D.C.-based burger chain’s Twitter account, a picture of Foley in orange overalls just before his execution by ISIS in 2014 was posted with the following text.
“When you say you want a burger and someone says okay lets hit McDonald’s????.”
A caption on the image of Foley also stated “You disgrace me.”
Foley was an American photojournalist who was abducted in 2012, soon after the Syrian Civil War broke out. In 2014, he was beheaded by ISIS, making him the first American to be killed by the Islamic terrorist group. A video of the beheading also cropped online in the days following his death, creating a huge uproar in international media.
The advertisement by Z-Burger seemed to completely disregard the complexities of such a war and an American journalist’s place within it by treating the image with such callousness. Understandably, Twitter erupted in the moments after the image went online, criticizing the burger chain for their brazenness in using a tragedy for narrow gains.
Z-Burger took down the image from Twitter, but not before multiple users had saved screenshots of the post.
The owner of the burger chain, Peter Tabibian, apologized for the advertisement, saying that the Twitter image was posted by the contracted marketing company Z-Burger employed and had not received his approval before it went online. He called the ad in “very poor taste” and promised that his company would be more careful when it came to the use of social media in the future.
“An apology has been sent to some of you from a contracted marketing company over an unfortunate incident, a post in very poor taste that was not approved by me before being uploaded to our Twitter account.”
“I have taken immediate steps to ensure that this never happens again.”
The contracted market company Tabibian was referring to, Valor Media, is run by 23-year-old social media influencer Michael Valor, who himself took to Twitter to post a series of apologies for using James Foley’s beheading image so casually.
He blamed a new art director at his company for the crude mistake, and pledged donations to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit which works for the protection of independent journalists in overseas conflict areas.
Foley’s mother, Diane, said she was hurt by the insensitivity of Z-burger’s ad but looked forward to how Tabibian and Valor were going to help her son’s foundation.