Burger King’s New Zealand branch has found itself in hot water after it published a Vietnamese dish ad that many found racist against Asians.
It had all gone smoothly until Maria Mo, a Korean New Zealander, caught a glimpse of the said video while scrolling through her Instagram and then tweeted a clip of the original commercial, in which several people are struggling will little if any success to eat a burger with a pair of giant chopsticks, with Mo’s video attracting the attention of crowds of netizens.
Online comments varied a lot, with some indignant over the large and much publicised company’s move to make fun of the historic utensil used by nearly all Asian ethnic groups across East Asia and their communities in the Western world for hundreds of years.
“Who the hell came up with this?” Tech Crunch’s Asia reporter tweeted. “There are a lot of Asian people in NZ, though they probably aren’t getting their Vietnamese food from Burger King”.
Others seem to have a similar sentiment, shaming the brand for what they claimed to be cultural deafness:
The managing director of the ad agency who made this racist ad for @BurgerKing is Y&R NZ’s @jono_key… So, JONO or BURGER KING—it never occurred to you that this ad might be offensive? Shame on you. https://t.co/TlYntUEKW1— MellyMed🦋 (@mel_med_larson) 6 апреля 2019 г.
Did Burger King not see Dolce & Gabanna’s racist ad from only 4 months ago????? https://t.co/1xphkwP0ZL— jordanlarae (@jordanlarae) 5 апреля 2019 г.
God dammit @BurgerKing hire some damn culturally conscious people on your marketing teams, though everyone in the room should have been able to detect how racist this is! We want to support y’all then you do this shit. https://t.co/b6XLZq5pVa— Sharmuel L. Fury (@MixedGirlMane) 5 апреля 2019 г.
What’s worse, this ad or using chopsticks in your hair? https://t.co/Yxy5ye2rHk— viet thanh nguyen (@viet_t_nguyen) 5 апреля 2019 г.
One, meanwhile, ascertained with melancholy that “the humour is dead”.
Seems humour is dead. Soon, you will not be able to crack an "Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman" gag. What? That's banned too?— Richiee (@VapeMasterZero) 6 апреля 2019 г.
Burger King falls foul of Twitter tastes with ‘racist’ chopsticks ad (VIDEO) https://t.co/AE7lTmNVV9
… whereas another, possibly an Asian user, preferred to have a decent laugh over it:
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) 4 апреля 2019 г.
Mo, who is a qualified pianist, noted to the Huffington Post that she was “fed up” with witnessing Asians being belittled by powerful companies. She complained about people of colour being constantly forced “to deal with microaggressions as well as outright hatred”, adding emotionally that “it just never ends”.
“And I could not believe that such a concept was approved for such a big, well-known company. It says a lot [about] what kind of demographics they must employ across the board for their ads”, she told the edition.
She noted that when the video, which has been watched by 124,000 people in two days, caught her eye, she “couldn’t believe that such blatantly ignorant ads are still happening in 2019”, remarking that “it took her a second to work out what the heck she was looking at”. She said that she expected some kind of “layered twist” in the video, but had to wake up to the fact there was none.
It is not the first time a controversy around a popular brand has arisen.
As early as in January, there was a massive public outcry after it surfaced that Stefano Gabbana, one of the fashion brand D&G’s co-founders, made what was purported to be anti-China “racist” remarks in response to complaints about his brand’s ads. The videos sported Chinese model Zuo Ye struggling to learn to eat Italian food — pizza, spaghetti and cannoli — with chopsticks, to the sounds of classic Chinese music, while the model had reportedly not been informed about the content beforehand, other than having been told they would be “fun”.
Also, in November 2018, Burger King found itself at the centre of a racial scandal, as a black employee went on a racist rant against a Hispanic couple she assumed were white and called them “a white piece of s***” which prompted her to be terminated from the fast food job.