A few days ago, the Twitter Marketing account announced that it's about to lean hard into the March Madness vibe this year, by hosting the social media platform's first-ever "Best of Tweets Brand Bracket." Although it hasn't released any additional details about the competition, scrolling through the replies can give you an indication of just how cringe it's going to get.
Dozens of thirsty brand accounts—restaurant chains, snack foods, gendered butthole wipes—immediately responded to tell @TwitterMarketing just how much they'd like to participate. The Brand Bracket's existence is a conversation for another day, but some corporations have already turned Twitter into an ongoing every-single-day competition to see who can be the biggest edgelord with the most recognizable logo.Burger King U.K. doesn't go as hard as some other brand accounts, but it will occasionally reference whoever Twitter's main character is for that day—it's subtweeted a British cereal controversy and North West's rumored artwork—and it's not above lightly dragging its competitors. But the 'Brands Gotta Brand' approach to social media is probably why Burger King U.K. typed what it did Monday morning. Whoever logged in to the @BurgerKingUK account was presumably tasked with promoting the chain's Burger King H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship for female employees who want to pursue culinary careers, but that part of its message was completely buried by the bad take it wrote first. "Women belong in the kitchen," it tweeted, and it was immediately ratioed to the bottom of the sea and back, which meant that the rest of the thread—the part that actually referenced the new scholarship program—was missed by most users.
Although all three tweets were posted at the same time, the engagement numbers show that almost everyone stopped reading after "Women belong in the kitchen," and the responses can't be what Burger King hoped for when it pressed 'Send Tweet.' "This tweet has 22,000 retweets. Your reply tweet has 1,000 retweets," gaming journalist Ryan Brown wrote. "This is why using sexist remarks as bait is a dumb, dumb idea. The majority of people aren't seeing your positive reply. They're just seeing a sexist comment made by a brand account." When the KFC Gaming account suggested deleting the tweet, Burger King responded that it was "drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry." Except...it isn't. Burger King's bad tweet is largely drawing attention to Burger King's bad tweet, and it's also inadvertently amplified voices who legitimately believe that women should remain subservient to men and/or fulfill 'traditional' household roles. Some women who expressed their frustration with the tone of the message have been have been told to "get back in the kitchen," some replies used tired misogynistic hashtags, and the original "Women belong in the kitchen" tweet was retweeted by far-right social network Gab.com, which absolutely doesn't give a shit about the scholarship details that followed.
"We are committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants—and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we’re trying to help fix," a Burger King spokesperson told VICE. "Our headline today was intentionally designed to draw attention to the unacceptable fact that only seven percent of head chefs in the U.S. are women. We understand that some are only reading the headline without our explanation, but we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity." That's the thing, though: a lot of people won't read the entirety of the thread. Part of this morning's backlash is because people on Twitter can be notoriously reactionary and aren't interested in scrolling past the shock joke to get to the sincere clarification—but anyone who's literally making their living sending tweets should know that. And it shouldn't take an email to a PR representative to find out the details about the scholarship program, which is in danger of becoming a literal punchline because of the way it was announced. But hey, hope you make the cut for that Best of Tweets Brand Bracket!!!! Update: On Monday afternoon, Burger King U.K. issued an apology for "[getting] our initial tweet wrong." It later deleted the "Women belong in the kitchen" part of the thread. "It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread and we don't want to leave the space open for that," it wrote.