Gourmet Burger Kitchen ad pulled in January for “mocking” vegetarians and vegans.
A series of adverts, hosted mostly in London Underground trains and stations have been pulled after just two days. The burger chain backtracked quickly after a massive social media backlash.
Using taglines such as “You’ll always remember when you gave up being a vegetarian”, and “Vegetarians, resistance is futile”, the posters quickly attracted criticism for its “disgraceful” use of language and ignorant attitude towards meat consumption.
A #GourmetMurderKitchen hashtag quickly gained momentum, with users expressing outrage and disappointment. Over 150 complaints were also made to the Advertising Standards Agency.
Twitter was awash with commentary. “I’m not a vegetarian and this offends me”, one user said. “Loved GBK but apparently we’re not welcome”, said another, showing how the campaign had alienated customers.
The Vegan Society also pointed out that Veganism has legal status as a protected belief under equality laws. Their Chief Executive, Jasmijn de Boo, said: “What a wonderful example of the power of the people to change things. They spotted an injustice, and made their voices heard. GBK had no choice but to listen and react.”
The company initially responded to complaints on Twitter that the campaign was “…just us playing up our carnivorous side”, but then went quiet. The ads were pulled two days later.
Talking to advertising site The Drum, Gourmet Burger Kitchen apologised, and issued the following statement: “Our new adverts have purely light-hearted intentions and were not meant to cause any offense. We’ve been serving beef as a core part of our menu for the last 15 years and whist we’re carnivores at heart, we have an extensive range of vegetarian options available. We value our vegetarian customers and their views, and have therefore made the decision to change some of our ads.”
A follow-up survey by The Drum showed that whilst the campaign had sparked outrage, it hadn’t affected Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s standing, with more people being attracted by the furore than being alienated, althoguh the long-term effects are yet to be analysed.