Burger King Pulls Ad Amidst Accusations Of Being ‘Culturally Insensitive’

Photo of a Burger King sign
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Burger King in New Zealand has pulled an advert for being “culturally insensitive,” according to The Guardian. The ad depicts a western Caucasian male as he struggles to eat a burger with large chopsticks. The comical ad has since been deemed ‘racist.’

The controversial ad also inspired an additional post condemning the advertisement. The post went viral attracting over 2.7 million views which lead to the ad being removed from the company’s Instagram page. It has also been removed from their official Twitter and Facebook pages. The burger itself is still available on the menu, according to the Burger King website.

The ad aimed to promote the company’s new Vietnamese burger with the caption, “take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City.” However, it has been heavily criticized for its mockery of Asian customs. Some have pointed out that the advert is inaccurate as the burger contains sweet chili sauce, which is more common in Thailand than in Vietnam.

According to CNN, a spokeswoman for Burger King had asked the New Zealand franchisee to remove the ad, saying that “the ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion.” Criticisms also come from the fact that the advert doesn’t feature any Vietnamese actors or actresses.

Some have taken to social media to express their concerns about the ad.

Maria Mo, a Korean New Zealander, told CNN that she could not believe that “such a concept was approved” and described the ad as “Orientalism.”

“I couldn’t believe such blatantly ignorant ads are still happening in 2019.”

This is not the first time a western company has been accused of insensitivity and mocking Asian cultures. In 2018, Italian fashion brand Dolce and Gobbana were criticized for racial stereotyping after an ad depicted a Chinese model attempting to eat pizza, a cannoli, and some spaghetti using chopsticks.

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Dolce and Gabbana attending new boutique opening on Audi Q2, 2016
  Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images

The advert was published on Weibo, a social media site in China. The outcry caused some Chinese stores and websites to stop selling Dolce and Gobanna products.

This was further exacerbated by alleged remarks made on the company co-founder Stafano Gabbana’s personal Instagram account, though he claimed that his account was hacked.

According to the report in The Guardian, while Burger King has yet to achieve huge success in Vietnam, they are becoming one of the biggest U.S. food chains in places like Thailand and Malaysia. The company even has plans for 1,000 new locations in China. However, the offensive advert in question could damage their presence in Asia.