Burger King New Zealand has apologised for and removed a short Instagram video designed to promote its Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp burger, as "Burger King apology" continues to go viral on Weibo in China.
The video showed different people trying to eat the burger using oversized red chopsticks, angering many viewers who felt it makes fun of an important cultural tradition.
"I'm so sick of racism. Of any kind." wrote Maria Mo, a Korean-Kiwi pianist. Her post of the Instagram video on her Twitter feed on April 4 was viewed millions of times (Mo has now set her account to 'protected') and attracted many international media outlets. "Because I couldn’t believe such blatantly ignorant ads are still happening in 2019, it honestly took me a second to work out what the heck I was looking at," she told HuffPost.
Mo's post sparked a debate about the ad's intentions and overtones. Some labelled it insensitive and stereotypical, while others, including Vietnamese users, defended the ad's sense of humour and say they didn't find it offensive.
The response echoes the reaction provoked by a Dolce & Gabbana ad released in China in November, which showed an Asian model trying to eat Italian food such as pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks, while being tutored by a male narrator. People reacted with fury, saying the video was racist. Retailers including Lane Crawford dropped the brand following the outcry and despite the official apology released by Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana in China, there are signs that the damage inflicted on the brand is ongoing.
Burger King NZ has now removed the ad from its social media feed and James Woodbridge, general manager marketing at Burger King NZ, told the New Zealand Herald: "We are truly sorry that the ad has appeared insensitive to our community. We have removed it and it certainly does not reflect our brand values around diversity and inclusion."
Campaign understands that Y&R NZ, which recently became VMLY&R, is the brand's agency of record.