Futbol is not as wildly popular in the U.S. as is it is in most other countries, but we still know it’s the World Cup. We have united on our little planet to watch men kick a ball across an enormous field into giant nets, and it feels great.
It’s also a great advertising opportunity. Everyone is being held captive in front of their TVs, reading about the World Cup online, and probably ordering a lot of take out. Brands are super hyped up about it, and that excitement led to a real lapse in judgement at Burger King. Burger King in Russia, to be specific.
The Associated Press reports that BK was running an ad that stated they’d give free burgers to women who got “the best football genes” in order to “ensure the success of the Russian team for generations to come.” With a picture of a pregnant woman to accompany it. You know what that means.
How reasonable—somehow find a World Cup athlete, seduce him, and carry his baby to term, then birth and raise it.
And in exchange, you get free burgers! It’s unclear if the kid gets to eat free, too.
Actually, The Moscow Times says the prize was greater than free meat. They were also offering 3 million rubles, which adds up to about $47,000. So, one year’s salary for a lifetime of regret.
Are you surprised to read that people were upset by the ad? It got pulled on Tuesday, and Burger King offered an apology.
“We are sorry about the clearly offensive promotion that the team in Russia launched online,” adding that the offer “does not reflect our brand or our values and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.”
It’s been suggested that the ad was sort of a joke; according to CNN, before the games began, Russian lawmaker Tamara Pletnyova advised World Cup lovers to “avoid sex with foreign fans” so they wouldn’t end up giving birth to “unhappy” mixed-race babies. Yikes.
“These children then suffer and have suffered even from Soviet times,” she said. “You know this perfectly well. It’s fine if they’re one race, but not if they’re from a different race. I’m not a nationalist, but still. I know the children suffer, then they get abandoned and that’s it, they stay with their mom here.”
People are actually not that surprised. As you can tell from their government representatives, there’s not a lot Russian people won’t say. They’re almost as bad as the U.S. Also, last year, Burger King got in trouble for allegedly mocking an underage rape victim, who is well-known in the country after talking about their experience on a popular Russian evening talk show.
The victim was mocked online as a meme, when she showed with her thumb and forefinger the amount she had drunk the night of her assault.
Burger King then used the meme in an ad to indicate how long their burger promotion would last. Blech.
Activists for women’s issues have said that the whole campaign reflects Russian attitudes towards women. There have been frequent protests about media representation of women, especially around the World Cup, which tends to gear its advertising towards men despite the multitude of women soccer fans.
The BBC spoke with women’s rights activist Alyona Popova about the general culture between men and women.
“If men are shouting from every corner that a woman is just a body, and find excuses to justify sexual harassment, and blame victims of domestic abuse for what happened, then women start thinking that this is the norm,” she said.
She added, “We should fight for a new image for women in the media. Instead, they use every opportunity to promote the wrong image.”
Not that Russia is the only country in the world struggling with sexism. Much like the World Cup, this seems to be an issue that brings everyone together. You can tell by the resigned attitude towards this story:
But it’s also kind of messed up to retract it?
Let’s just make it a rule that fast food brands stay out of baby-making as a first step towards gender equality.