As International Women's Day began around the world Monday morning, Burger King's UK business apparently tried to promote a new scholarship program to help encourage more women to pursue careers in Britain's culinary industry. But the company faced backlash for the wording of the message and later apologized.
"Women belong in the kitchen," read the first part of a tweet thread.
The since deleted tweets were part of a thread, but the first phrase sounded offensive to many without the context of the other tweets.
In the Twitter thread, the author began the message with the phrase, but then continued to explain how the company is supporting a scholarship to promote women in culinary career positions.
"Women belong in the kitchen," the first line read. Then below that it said, "If they want to, of course. Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career. #IWD"
The thread continued by saying that Burger King UK is launching a new scholarship to "help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams!"
The tweet was reportedly retweeted at least 125,000 times before that portion of the thread was later deleted. The other two tweets in the thread, which many appeared to have missed for context, reportedly saw around 10,000 retweets for both.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, which has come out with its own gaming console, replied from its KFC Gaming Twitter account, calling out Burger King for the confusing tweet.
Burger King later tweeted an apology, acknowledging its messaging went awry.
"We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry," the company tweeted. "Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time."
Burger King said it deleted the original tweet due to abusive comments in the thread.
Prior to the apology, the company seemed to take the approach of doubling down on its remarks, as USA Today pointed out.
When Twitter users would point out the odd wording of the tweet, Burger King UK defended it. In one case one user called the comment "weird," to which Burger King UK replied, "We think it's weird that women make up only 20% of chefs in the UK restaurant industry."
The technique didn't work, and the account later deleted the offending portion of the tweet thread.
Others theorized that it might have been a clickbait stunt gone wrong.
But, that theory seems to hold water as Burger King UK did reply to KFC Gaming in one exchange saying, "Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you’d be on board with this as well? We've launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career."