Burger King drops chopsticks ad after complaints of racism

Burger King has removed an ad showing people trying to eat a burger with giant chopsticks after complaints of cultural insensitivity.

The video advertising the new Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp was posted to the New Zealand branch's official Instagram page. It featured customers clumsily grappling with the chicken burger using two enormous red chopsticks.

In a now-viral series of tweets, Korean New Zealander and University of Waikato student Maria Mo criticised Burger King for making fun of Asian dining habits.

"This is how Asians eat," she wrote mockingly. "Orientalism is harmless fun."

Mo went on to say she was "so sick of racism of any kind", and made a reference to the March 15 massacre in two Christchurch mosques.

"The kind that makes fun of different cultures, to the kind that shoots and murders those peacefully praying in their place of worship."

Her comments attracted international attention, with many others agreeing the ad portrayed chopsticks, which are used across East Asia, as inherently amusing.

"Someone make a video of a bunch of Asians using forks to eat sushi or pho with," one Twitter user suggested. "Make their fork invention look clumsy, primitive and stupid just like how this ad was trying to imply with chopsticks."

In response to the backlash, Burger King has pulled the ad from Instagram and issued an apology.

"We are truly sorry that the ad has appeared insensitive to our community," general manager for marketing James Woodbridge said. "We have removed it and it certainly does not reflect our brand values around diversity and inclusion."

Global advertising agency VMLY&R took over Burger King's creative department in May 2018, including its social media and digital advertising.

Newshub has approached VMLY&R for comment on the chopsticks ad.

In November, designer brand Dolce & Gabbana was slammed for an Instagram ad showing a Chinese model struggling to eat Western food with chopsticks.

A male voice could be heard asking "Is it too huge for you?" which some said contributed to the sexual fetishisation of Asian women.