Yesterday, Burger King got the internet talking with a risky ad campaign for International Women’s Day. While many brands and retailers took the simple, oft-traveled IWD route, offering site-wide discounts to “honor women” with marketable feminism, the UK Burger King account tweeted, “Women belong in the kitchen,” and published a full-page New York Times ad echoing the sentiment.
The restaurant replied to the since-deleted tweet, which had been retweeted and quote tweeted more than 250,000 times, with a subsequent message, “if they want to, of course.”
“Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career,” the brand wrote before announcing a new scholarship to ”help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams.”
The company’s aim was clear. Burger King wanted to flip the slogan of make-me-a-sandwich misogyny to advocate for women working in the food industry, and cause some commotion along the way. And, while many criticized the fast food chain’s poor-taste post, the risk may have been worth the reward on social media.
After weeks of plateauing at 1.91 million Twitter followers, the US Burger King’s following jumped to 1.92 million following the March 8 Women’s Day tweet.
Burger King’s global CMO defended the campaign while acknowledging the rollout was a little clumsy. At the end of the day, the UK BK Twitter account issued an apology. “We hear you,” the tweet read. “We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.”
Last Thursday, another brand saw positive results from a slightly less risky but equally shocking ad campaign. On Thursday, the Amsterdam-based menswear brand Suitsupply unveiled a preview of its spring/summer 2021 line with an orgiastic photo featuring a suited man sharing an open-mouthed kiss among a pile of half-naked bodies. The caption read, "The New Normal is Coming. Get Ready to Get Closer."
Since the ad ran, Suitsupply.com’s average daily pageviews have surged from 500,000 to 3.7 million, up by over 600%.
By Sunday, Suitsupply’s Facebook mentions increased by 181% month-over-month at 2,540 mentions.
Since corporate brands gained social media sentience over the last several years, there have been countless PR flubs and backfiring tweets. But lately, for better or worse, Brand Twitter has been proving that most press is good press.
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