#BoycottBurgerKing: Fast food chain upsets Egyptians by making light of Suez Canal crisis

The restaurant seized on the opportunity to use the saga as the basis of an ad for the Double Whopper

ABU DHABI Ð March 16, 2008: Burger King in Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi (Photo by Ryan Carter / The Nation)
 *** Local Caption *** RC001-BurgerKing.jpg
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Burger King is back in the line of fire after it released an advertisement making light of the recent Suez Canal blockage, in which 200,000-tonne container ship Ever Given blocked one of the world's busiest waterways for almost a week, causing oil prices to rise and holding up almost $10 billion in maritime trade a day.

A post on Instagram by Burger King Chile shows an aerial view of the Suez Canal, with an image of a Double Whopper superimposed in the spot where the blockage occurred.

The caption talks about the fast food chain's delivery service, saying "there's no channel to interrupt" it.

The global chief marketing officer for Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes, retweeted it, adding it was a "great post", although that tweet now appears to have been deleted.

While other marketing professionals also retweeted the advert, describing it as an "excellent post", users across Egypt did not receive it as well.

"If you think marketing is to make fun and take advantage of breakdown in any country, you should think again," wrote one Instagram user. "Exploiting the suffering of others will not promote you, but rather lowering your respect."

Over on Twitter, Mohamed Shalaan wrote: "A call to all Arab brothers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman ... a call to everyone who holds Egypt close or even a little love, boycott the Burger King chain."

There were others who didn't take it so badly. "I’m Egyptian and this is SO FUNNY," wrote Salma Useef on Instagram, adding a laughing face emoji.

The end result, however, was that the hashtag #BoycottBurgerKing attracted thousands of tweets.

'Women belong in the kitchen'

This comes mere weeks after a tweet from Burger King UK on International Women's Day was slammed for its "women belong in the kitchen" message. While it aimed to promote an initiative to help increase the number of women in head chef roles, people on social media took it the wrong way, with some describing it as tone deaf.

At first, the restaurant chain defended its message, tweeting: "Why would we delete a tweet that's drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry." But then they backtracked, apologised and deleted it. "We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry."

Plant-based or not?

Over in the UAE, Burger King also managed to upset the vegan and vegetarian community late last year after it began advertising its "plant-based" burger, which not only uses non-vegan ingredients, but is also cooked on the same grill as meat products and so is not suitable for vegetarians, either.

This spurred users of the Vegans take Dubai group to submit a complaint of "false advertising" to the Department of Economic Development (DED).

"It seems that not only the mayo has egg like the disclaimer states, but they told some people that the patty itself has egg, too," wrote the user who created the DED complaint. "It’s also grilled on same equipment and so in the UK it has the disclaimer 'not suitable for vegetarians', but here they are getting away with it."

The brand later released imagery that explained more about its ingredients, clarifying that its patty and bun contained no animal products at all.