Egyptian social media users launched the hashtag #BoycottBurgerKing after the fast-food restaurant chain promoted a sandwich on Twitter by using an aerial photo of the Suez Canal blockage.
In the advertisement, Burger King Chile superimposed the image of a Double Whopper sandwich in place of the 430-yard Ever Given cargo ship, which was grounded in the Suez Canal and halted maritime trade in the region for almost a week.
The container carrier hit the eastern bank of the narrow shipping lane March 23 and became wedged diagonally across its span. Shipping convoys through the canal resumed on Monday evening after tugs finally pulled the Ever Given free.
Burger King Global CMO Fernando Machado shared the ad on Twitter and wrote, “Great post from Burger King Chile” accompanied by a laughing emoji.
Many Egyptian social-media users did not find it funny.
“The Burger King in Chile took advantage of the global trend of the ship and they suggested their sandwich was as big as the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal,” Sameh Al-Rifai wrote on Twitter.
Social-media users described the ad as “bad manners of the company” and urged other users to boycott Burger King restaurants and products.
“A call to every honorable Egyptian, a call to all Arab brothers, a call to everyone who loves Egypt — Boycott the Burger King chain,” Muhammad Shaalan tweeted.
During the blockage crisis, Egyptians were worried because maritime navigation in the Suez Canal stopped for six days as other ships backed up for miles in both directions. The canal links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, through which more than 10 percent of global maritime trade passes through.
“Mocking others’ crises is a psychological issue, apart from the restaurant,” activist Muhammad Rashid wrote on Twitter while using the hashtag.
#BoycottBurgerKing attracted thousands of tweets, all of which included strong criticism of the company and explicit calls for an inclusive boycott.
“The disaster is that you now mean nothing for the people who rely on fast food,” another social-media user wrote.
However, there was another group of Twitterati who saw nothing wrong with the Burger King ad and considered it a smart way of riding the wave of the crisis.
But this is not the first time Burger King has found itself on the griddle and getting burnt over an offensive tongue-in-cheek tweet.
Three weeks ago on International Women’s Day, a tweet from Burger King UK read: “Women belong in the kitchen” and it backfired massively on the fast-food burger brand.
While the thread was meant to reference the male-dominated UK kitchens and attempt to help women break through by awarding culinary scholarships, the chain deleted the tweet and issued an apology instead.