Burger King Faces Backlash After "Women belong in the kitchen" Tweet

Jonah Malin


Well, Twitter collected the soul of another major corporation this week.

International Women’s Day, established to accelerate gender parity while celebrating women’s achievements is marked annually on March 8th. Many brands prepare social campaigns and announcements to show their support for women’s equality and generate positive PR.

Anthropologie partnered with She’s the First, a non-profit charitable organization that teams up with grassroots, women-led organizations across the world.

Activewear brand Outdoor Voices donate 15% of its sales to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.

And Burger King decided to go with a “Women belong in the kitchen” campaign. The provocative copy pushing a historically misogynistic narrative ran as a print ad in The New York Times, alongside an announcement of its H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) scholarship to support women chefs.

The print ad quickly makes it apparent that the headline is being used ironically. The message continues:

“Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there’s a professional kitchen, women belong there.


However, the bolded copy was reused on Twitter without an immediate parallel.


The standalone tweet of “Women belong in the kitchen” came across as outdated and hostile.

Burger King immediately tried to salvage the situation by (aggressively?) responding to comments as they poured in.




If you think people are overreacting, Fernando Machado, global CMO of Burger King's parent company Restaurant Brands International, admitted to Adweek that the message was not effective when broken across multiple tweets.

“That did draw some negative feedback from people who only read the headline. But hopefully it will continue to shift to positive as people realize the real intent behind it.”

The marketer in me doesn’t understand how Burger King’s team is so ineffective on Twitter. Even letting users know they intended it to be a thread would have lightened the load. Personally, I only saw the initial tweet and had to do some research to see the rest of it. I’m sure many others were in a similar situation.

It’s a real shame — this is a day meant to open positive conversations and uplift the women in your life. I found myself reading through dozens of powerful stories about women leaders who are changing the world for the better. Then I was sidetracked by a dumb Tweet from a $10 billion company.

Even if Burger King didn’t predict this outcome, which I find unlikely, they are ultimately taking away from coverage of necessary fundraising, awareness, and celebration.

Had they gone with a simple tagline edit like “Helping Women Belong in the Kitchen,” I believe the reaction would have been different.

Or as another Twitter user pointed out, they could have condensed everything into one tweet:


While the scholarship is well-intentioned, this is another case of a brand trying to force virality on social media.

Sure, it generated a lot of buzz — but gender inequality remains an issue. Sexism should not be clickbait. Burger King tried to be cheeky about a subject matter many people don’t find amusing.

What do you think about this campaign?

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I am a content strategist, career advice author, and contributing writer based in Washington, DC. Join me as I explore health & wellness, productivity, philosophy, and life. Find me @Beyond Definition // Medium // Ladders // jonahmalin.com/barelyweekly

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