ASIAN VOICES

Burger King Gets Grilled For Offensive 'Vietnamese' Chopstick Ad

Asian people are not amused by an ad featuring burgers and chopsticks from the Burger King chain in New Zealand.
Burger King New Zealand came out with a promotional video featuring people trying to eat a burger with chopsticks.
Burger King New Zealand came out with a promotional video featuring people trying to eat a burger with chopsticks.

Burger King’s New Zealand branch is getting grilled after an ad surfaced that many found racist against the Asian community.

Maria Mo, a Korean New Zealander, saw the sponsored video while scrolling through Instagram. She tweeted a clip of the ad. In it, several people struggle to eat a burger using giant chopsticks. 

Burger King’s New Zealand Instagram account, @burgerkingnz, posted the ad in a promotion of its Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp burger.

“Because I couldn’t believe such blatantly ignorant ads are still happening in 2019, it honestly took me a second to work out what the heck I was looking at,” Mo told HuffPost in a message.

“I was watching it thinking there must be some kind of layered twist ― only to realise, no, there was no twist, it really was that base level,” she said

About 124,000 people viewed Mo’s video within two days of her tweeting it. The full video featured more clips of people struggling to eat the burger with chopsticks, according to Mo.

Many were enraged by the company’s decision to make fun of chopsticks, an eating utensil used by ethnic groups across Asia for thousands of years. Asian communities across the world, including in the U.S. and New Zealand, use chopsticks for eating and cooking.

“Who the hell came up with this?” Tech Crunch’s Asia reporter tweeted. “There are a lot of Asian people in NZ, though they probably aren’t getting their Vietnamese food from Burger King.”

Burger King New Zealand did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.

Mo, a classical pianist, said she was “fed up” with seeing Asians portrayed by powerful companies in a diminished way. 

“I felt extremely fed up, and tired,” Mo said about seeing the ad.

People of color “are constantly having to deal with microaggressions as well as outright hatred and it just never ends,” she added. “And I could not believe that such a concept was approved for such a big, well-known company. It says a lot [about] what kind of demographics they must employ across the board for their ads.”

This isn’t the first time a popular company portrayed Asians offensively.

In December, people in China were outraged over an advertisement by the high-end Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana that featured an Asian woman being taught how to eat pizza, spaghetti and cannoli with chopsticks.

In the advertisement, a narrator speaking in Mandarin pronounces “Dolce & Gabbana” incorrectly, and it appears to be intentional.

On China’s social media network Weibo, one person wrote that the video displayed “explicit racism,” according to NPR.

“D&G’s stereotyping China,” that person added. The videos “only show the brand’s outdated view about China.”

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