On International Women’s Day this past Monday, Burger King UK tweeted “Women belong in the kitchen.” Its goal was to promote its new culinary scholarships for women. The chain apologized and took down the tweet after public backlash.
The funniest part of this entire debacle is that all this professional marketing team had to do was add a question mark to this tweet. That way, it would have been crystal clear the chain wasn’t just making a sexist joke and Twitter users should stand by for more context.
Take it from a commerce student—people in marketing have zero self-awareness, and they get paid way too much money to be making hilarious mistakes like this one.
Of course, there’s something more at play here. We need to stop pretending marketers care and, more importantly, we need to stop pretending companies care whether or not they’re making mistakes like this one.
Setting aside how stupid this marketing effort was, many accounts put the cost of this campaign higher than the amount disbursed in the scholarships.
The Washington Post speculated that one ad publicizing the scholarships put out by Burger King in The New York Times print paper might have cost $65,000, more than twice the amount of one of the scholarships available.
An organization that pays considerably more to promote its pro-women efforts than it actually does caring about women doesn’t care about women. It’s that simple.
I don’t care if RBC changes its logo to a lioness with curves or if Google puts out a special animation for International Women’s Day. These aren’t feminist efforts. They’re marketing efforts. And, even when they’re backed with action, they’re not backed with systemic change.
Systemic change for women, to start, would probably involve dismantling the marketing industry altogether, since it’s the same one that creates our insecurities and sells us billions of dollars worth of their solutions.
Feminist movements, or any other push for social justice, have never been driven by profit. They’ve been driven by angry people joining together in collective action. International Women’s Day began as a socialist revolution. It doesn’t appreciate you commodifying it.
#Girlboss feminism is not going to get women anywhere and, even when it does get women into positions of power—usually white women—it forces them to adopt the same aggressive and selfish behaviour that white men have used to oppress most of the world.
Laugh at Burger King. They made a hilarious and expensive mistake. Laugh at every marketing effort you see—because it’s all meaningless. Real change comes from mutual aid, protesting, and resistance. We don’t need these companies to do any of that.
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