Fast-food giant Burger King was forced to scrap an advert after it was slammed on social media for being “racist”.
The Instagram commercial showing Western people eating a new Vietnamese burger in New Zealand with chopsticks sparked outrage online.
“Take your tastebuds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City with our Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp, part of our Tastes of the World range. Available for a limited time only,” a caption for the ad read on Instagram.
Mario Mo, a Korean New Zealander, posted a video of the ad to her Twitter slamming the brand’s use of chopsticks with a sarcastic, “So this is the new Burger King ad for a ‘Vietnamese’ burger OK coolcoolcoolcoolcool CHOPSTICKS R HILARIOUS right omg etc.”
So this is the new Burger King ad for a “Vietnamese” burger ok coolcoolcoolcoolcool CHOPSTICKS R HILARIOUS right omg etc 🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃 pic.twitter.com/zVD8CN04Wc
— 마리아. Maria. (@mariahmocarey) April 4, 2019
Soon after Mo posted the video, it went viral, pulling in over 2.1 million views as of Monday morning and hundreds of comments from Twitter users expressing their own outrage at the company’s approval of the ad.
LOL chopsticks amirite??????
Who the hell came up with this? There are a lot of Asian people in NZ, though they probably aren’t getting their Vietnamese food from Burger King 🤢 https://t.co/XSGYX7IVBR
— Catherine Shu (@CatherineShu) April 5, 2019
This is ridiculous 🤦🏻♀️
Who thought this was a good idea??
— salinas 💜💜💜 (@pickyjellyfish) April 7, 2019
This ad just yelled “ching chong” at me with its eyes pulled up and asked me if I eat dogs. This is what happens when no poc are on the creative team.
— Jeannie (@JeannieBeanie99) April 6, 2019
Mo told HuffPost she decided to post the video because she was shocked to see it in the first place.
“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,” Mo told HuffPost in a message.
“(People of colour) are constantly having to deal with microaggressions as well as outright hatred, and it just never ends,” she added.
I’m so sick of racism. Of any kind. Of the kind that makes fun of different cultures, to the kind that shoots and murders those peacefully praying in their place of worship. Say no to every single manifestation of it. #GiveNothingToRacism.
— 마리아. Maria. (@mariahmocarey) April 7, 2019
Burger King has now deleted the clip from its Instagram account in New Zealand and has also withdrawn the television commercial.
“The ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion,” a spokesperson is reported to have said.
In November, Dolce & Gabbana apologised after receiving backlash for a series of “racist” ads that featured an Asian model using chopsticks to eat pizza and other Italian foods.
In 2017, The New York Times came under fire for its inappropriate positioning of chopsticks in a photograph announcing the yet-to-be opened “Asian-inspired” steak house, Jade Sixty.
Twitter pointed out the chopsticks were placed in an upright manner — a chopsticks etiquette faux pas as, in Japanese culture, upright chopsticks indicate death or suggest a funeral offering.
The New York Times replaced the photo to one without chopsticks.