Burger King franchises are under direct attack from the Vietnamese community, despite the brand pulling an ad promoting its Vietnamese-inspired burger that was deemed ‘racist’ by online commenters.
The spot, which was released on Instagram by the chain’s New Zealand account, was created to promote Burger King’s Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp burger. The ad featured western actors trying to eat the sandwich with oversized red chopsticks.
New Zealander Maria Mo was one of the first to flag the advert’s racism on social media, noting it implied the Asian utensils are “hilarious” when compared to western eating traditions.
Burger King has now canned the ad after Mo’s reaction was picked up by several international titles.
A spokesperson said it had asked its New Zealand franchise to remove the spot from its media plan immediately, adding: “The ad in question is insensitive and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion.”
Additionally, Burger King NZ’s general manager of marketing, James Woodbridge, told the New Zealand Herald the company is "truly sorry" for releasing the spot.
Yet the brand is now facing a deluge of derogatory comments across social accounts in all of its markets following the PR blowback. A number of comments feature the hashtag #BurgerKingGetOutOfVietnam.
Uri Usher wrote on Burger King’s US Facebook page: “I read that you dare to criticize us for eating chopsticks. You guys are classy and cheap. I declare that you should get away from Vietnam ASAP. Don't dirty my country."
Ngân Anh added: “It's time to learn how to respect other cultures, Burger King. You do not deserve a part of our market. If you cannot see how elegant Asian cuisine is, just get out of it.”
However, any boycott of Burger King in the country is unlikely to hurt the company’s financial dealings. CNBC reported last year that the brand only houses 13 stores in the country, having struggled to win over a Vietnamese audience with its Whoppers and cheeseburgers.
VMLY&R, which is believed to hold the bulk of Burger King's creative account in New Zealand, did not immediately respond to The Drum's request for comment.