retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Burger King is getting grilled.  And the fast feeder deserves it.

In the US and the UK, Burger King decided to celebrate International Women’s Day with a full page New York Times ad and accompanying social media posts designed to highlight the fact that there needs to be greater emphasis on hiring women chefs in the restaurant business.

The problem was the headline it decided to use:

Women belong in the kitchen.

Here's the Times ad:

Advertising Age writes, "Reactions on social media showed that many people were disappointed by the brand's choice of language. Burger King is often outspoken in its marketing and uses some snark in some of its social media posts. But the backlash to the attempt at flipping the intention of 'women belong in the kitchen' shows the risk of getting too playful with social media marketing, especially when many viewers see messages in isolation, and not as part of a broader campaign. Burger King saw more than 251,000 mentions before 12:30 pm ET, nearly as many of the 323,000 mentions it has seen in the past two weeks with sentiment skewing towards negative, with perhaps surprisingly 71% of the mentions coming from men, according to analytics firm BrandTotal."

It is hard for me to imagine that there was nobody sitting around that (probably virtual) table who said, "Are we sure this is a good idea?"

You have to ask that question, especially these days, when women's careers have taken a real hit from the pandemic.  A lot of surveys suggesting that there are real concerns about how long it will take many women to regain career momentum lost to the coronavirus.  Plus, there is plenty of evidence out there that a lot of people haven't been paying attention to the #MeToo movement.

To be fair, Burger King did back off pretty quickly, apologizing on social media.  But it was too little, too late.

Some will say that people need to have more of a sense of humor.  While I generally agree with that statement, I also think that women are entitled to say that there is nothing funny about offensive behavior, especially since they end up being the brunt of the "jokes."

The thing that amazes me is how so many people - largely, but not exclusively, men - have learned so little and seem to think so infrequently.

Take, for example, the governor of New York State, who wants us to believe that in 2021 he was unaware of the fact that one should not call female subordinates "sweetheart," should not kiss them, should not put your hands on them, should not invade their personal space or treat them in a way that might be perceived as harassment or in any way sexual.

Here's the deal - and it shouldn't be an Eye-Opener.  Anybody who does not know that in 2021 isn't qualified to hold any public office, isn't qualified to hold any leadership position, and in fact isn't even qualified to run a single Burger King.