A tweet on Burger King’s Twitter page, seen on 18 May 2019, included the text "Dear people of Scotland. We're selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying"
Twenty-four complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive because they believed it encouraged violence and anti-social behaviour.
BKUK Group Ltd t/a Burger King responded that the tweet was intended to be a tongue in cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures. Burger King stated that it did not endorse violence and that was made clear with a follow-up tweet posted after responses to the tweet under complaint. The follow-up tweet stated, “We’d never endorse violence – or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.”
The ad was posted the day after a branch of McDonalds Restaurants in Edinburgh had chosen not to sell milkshakes or ice-cream products during a nearby political rally addressed by Nigel Farage, because milkshakes had been thrown at political figures in recent weeks. Those events had been widely reported in the media and we therefore considered that people who saw the tweet were likely to be aware of what had happened and that Nigel Farage was due to make more public appearances in Scotland that weekend. In that context we considered that the ad was likely to be seen as a reference to the recent incidents of "milkshaking" political figures. Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to “milkshake” Nigel Farage. We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.4 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BKUK Group Ltd t/a Burger King to ensure that its future marketing communications did not condone or encourage anti-social behaviour.