The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a condemnatory ruling against Burger King over a tweet it published in May.
That month, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had a milkshake dumped on him in Newcastle as he campaigned for the European elections.
Following the incident, a McDonald’s branch in Edinburgh announced via social media it wouldn’t be selling milkshakes while a rally led by Farage took place nearby. Conversely, fast food competitor Burger King announced via social media milkshakes would very much be available at all its branches north of the border – the obvious implication being would-be lacto-terrorists could still procure the necessary equipment to attack Farage if they so desired.
“Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying.” the tweet said.
In response to the complaints, Burger King stressed the tweet was jocular and did not endorse violence “or wasting our delicious milkshakes!”. However, the ASA failed to see the funny side of the stunt, concluding the tweet “condoned previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances”, and branding the message “irresponsible”. The “ad” was also found to have breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.4 (Harm and offence).
ASA has ruled that the Burger King milkshake tweet was irresponsible - "condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instance" https://t.co/4mJWW0dNHa— Madeleine Davies (@MadsDavies) October 2, 2019
“We considered people who saw the tweet were likely to be aware…Farage was due to make more public appearances in Scotland that weekend. In that context we considered the ad was likely to be seen as a reference to the recent incidents of "milkshaking" political figures. Although we acknowledged the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting Burger King milkshakes could be used instead,” the ruling states.
As a result, the “ad” must not appear again in its current form, and Burger King has been ordered to ensure its future marketing communications don’t condone or encourage antisocial behaviour.