In celebration of International Women’s Day, Burger King managed to post a tweet that got their business trending. Their engagement numbers are high. Great news for the people working their UK social media account, right? Except they managed to get people talking about them on International Women’s Day by tweeting, “Women belong in the kitchen.” Yes, that was the complete first tweet, though it had follow-up statements. Now, Twitter users are suggesting changing their name to Burger Queen would be a good way to get themselves out of the giant hole they’ve dug.
They followed their first tweet up with a statement about the importance of women chefs in the workplace. Apparently, Burger King has a scholarship program to help women chefs. To make women feel welcome, they announced it by letting women know that they belong in the kitchen.
One of the biggest keys to great comedy? Timing. Burger King (or as they shall now be known if Twitter has its way: Burger Queen) seemed to understand that on some level. That was why they broke the tweet into multiple parts in the manner they chose to. For the lawls. From the backlash perspective, they may have wanted to consider the perspective of women getting to read the super played-out tropey joke “women belong in the kitchen” on International Women’s Day. Is it offensive enough to be angry? Should we all just cringe at the bad taste and awkward bid for attention? It’s nowhere near the level of that Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner, but it’s not a good look, either.
Somewhere at Burger King, they actually had a meeting or ten where they decided to use misogyny as a way to draw attention to how against sexism they are. No one stopped and said, “Hey guys, maybe instead, let’s don’t.” This was their very best idea. Nothing fun with Burger Queen, or maybe just a “Yay women!”. No, they put a lot of money and effort into the campaign. They believed in it. And that’s maybe the most embarrassing part for them. This wasn’t just one tweet. The burger grillers ran a full New York Times ad with the same copy, though it ran a little better in that format.
Do you suppose they knew it would have terrible backlash? Do you think Burger Queen’s social media folks subscribe to “All publicity is good publicity”? Or do you think they had a meeting where someone super insisted that this was hilarious and the best way to support women in the workplace? It seems there may be a strong link between companies that tweet things like “Women belong in the kitchen” and workplaces that aren’t great for women. Their workplace statistics seem to back that assumption up.
“We’re taking a sexist joke and turning it on its head,” is an argument to be had, if you’re into defending Burger Queen. Except maybe not on International Women’s Day. And maybe not when you’re running social media for a major corporation. Are these the quality tweets we were looking for?