Instagram | Burger King

Burger King Chopstick Ad Taken Down Over Accusations Of Racism

If you have to question whether or not something is cultural appropriation, it probably is.

When creating any content for a wide audience, it's important to ask yourself, "Is this appreciating a culture, or making fun of it?"

Rule of thumb—don't use cultural stereotypes.

Jokes about cultures or races of people are very often rooted in stereotypes that are not only untrue, but also extremely harmful.

You'd think it was an easy enough concept to follow.

But as Burger King just learned, the internet is quick to jump on those who make the wrong call.

Instagram | @khadz

The company recently released a commercial for their new Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp Burger on their New Zealand Instagram Account.

The product tag line reads: “Take your taste buds all the way to Ho Chi Minh City with our Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp.”

The video featured people trying and failing to eat the new burger with over-sized, red chopsticks.


Clips of the ad were shared on Burger King accounts across all social platforms.

Instantly, social media erupted in outrage, claiming that the commercial makes fun of chopsticks and eating habits specific to Asian culture, since chopsticks are an eating utensil that Asian communities have been using for thousands of years.

One Twitter user's outrage at the ad got a lot of traction.

The commercial went viral when a Korean woman named Maria Mo shared clips of the ad to her twitter account, which has since been deleted.

“Chopsticks r hilarious,” she wrote, “Orientalism is harmless funnnn".

She then took a more serious tone expressed her disappointment towards Burger King.

Unsplash | Omar Lopez

“I’m so sick of racism of any kind. Of the kind that makes fun of different cultures,” she said., “Say no to every single manifestation of it.”

Once the clips of the ad got around, people didn't hold back from placing blame.

"How did this ever get approved to be released in New Zealand?" one woman tweeted, "it is 2019 correct??? I’m pretty appalled and think this campaign was incredibly dumb".

Journalist Catherine Shu wasn't afraid to join the conversation either:

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.

The ad and coresponding video have now been wiped from all Burger King accounts.

Instagram | @burgerking

Burger King released an official statement on the matter, apologizing for any and all wrongdoing:

"The ad was insensitive," a representative wrote, "and does not reflect our brand values regarding diversity and inclusion."

These kinds of 'mistakes' can be detrimental to a company's reputation.

Instagram | @burgerking

Brent McGoldrick, senior managing director of strategic communications for FTI Consulting, told Time Magazine that when companies are involved in controversies such as this, "[they] completely hurt their ability to drive any sort of interesting or positive viral dialogue, and now [their content] becomes almost all negative".

Maybe we should just stick to eating burgers with our hands.