Burger King has been condemned by the ad watchdog for encouraging antisocial behaviour after seemingly encouraging protesters to “milkshake” Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
So-called “milkshake-gate” was set against a background of a spate of similar incidents during the European elections campaign; Farage had also been hit by a milkshake in Newcastle city centre.
Following this, McDonald’s restaurant in Edinburgh was asked by police not to sell milkshakes because it was located within 200 metres of where Farage was to hold a rally and they feared protesters might throw them.
Burger King was quick to react to the news and tweeted: “Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying.”
However, the tweet did not go down too well with some, triggering 24 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was irresponsible and offensive because the message encouraged violence and antisocial behaviour.
In its defence, Burger King insisted that the tweet was intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures. The fast food giant stated that it did not endorse violence and that was made clear with a follow-up tweet which stated: “We’d never endorse violence – or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.”
Nevertheless, the ASA was not impressed. In its ruling, the regulator acknowledged the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, but in the context in which it appeared the ASA considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to “milkshake” Farage.
The regulator added: “We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”
Banning the ad, the ASA warned Burger King to ensure that its future marketing communications did not condone or encourage anti-social behaviour.
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