Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) has pulled its newest campaign video and issued an apology after viewers labelled it racist.
In the advert, a bearded white man is seen standing outside curry houses in east London wearing a GBK sandwich board and telling customers that the food inside isn’t “proper Indian”.
The short clip was made to promote the chain’s Indian-inspired Ruby Murray burger and depicts the man listing its ingredients (spiced lamb, mango chutney and poppadoms), touting its authenticity in a bid to start a "curry war".
He goes on to shout about the new burger via a megaphone while standing outside Indian restaurants.
The #CurryWars campaign sparked outrage after it was shared online, with critics accusing GBK of missing the mark and offending ethnic minorities.
Hahaha It’s a white guy from Gourmet Burger Kitchen antagonising small local Indian restaurants. Just super bad marketing. They’re a big chain saying they produce proper Indian food, and trying to define what it is. When it’s not even their culture. Plus they’re being rude
— Hannah 🎴 (@hevansangel21) October 18, 2018
Within hours of the clip being shared on social media, viewers were calling for it to be taken down, with many describing it as “tone deaf”.
“Delete this,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Then hire more minorities in senior positions so they can inform you when you’re being racist bc clearly you can’t tell by yourselves.”
I see another piece of deliberately 'edgy' fast food marketing is going on again for the clicks. Utter arses.
(Also: the burgers are purest shite.)
— Marina O'Loughlin (@MarinaOLoughlin) October 18, 2018
“Yeah this is racist,” added another.
“And I'm guessing you don't even understand why. So can I suggest that before you issue the inevitable apology, you learn why.”
The fact your “intent” was so misguided & culturally inept raises much deeper questions about yourselves as a brand, the internal workings of your agency team(s) & ultimately, who the intended beneficiaries of the message were (clue: not those being exploited in the video).
— Will de Groot (@willdegroot) October 18, 2018
GBK removed all evidence of its #CurryWars video campaign on Thursday, posting an apologetic statement on Twitter explaining that the clip was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
“To those offended by our Ruby Murray video, we humbly apologise,” it reads.
“The video was intended to be humorous. We know that a burger could never pass off as an authentic Indian dish. Having read your comments we've made the decision to take down the content. Unreserved Apologies, GBK.”
The campaign was the product of a collaboration with marketing company You Agency, who have insisted that there was “no racist angle” in the clip.
Speaking to The Drum, You’s chief executive Michael Carr said: "Our campaigns have always been rooted in an unwavering belief in the quality of the burgers, and in this instance the joke is in the absurdity that a curry burger could possibly compete with genuine Indian cuisine.”
It’s not the first time GBK has come under fire for one of its advertising campaigns.
— Sam Atkinson (@satkinsonphoto) January 17, 2016
In 2016, the burger chain ran a series of ads on the London Underground featuring the tag lines: “Vegetarians resistance is futile” and “You’ll always remember when you gave up being a vegetarian.”
The posters prompted a backlash on social media under the hashtag #gourmetmurderkitchen, as people accused GBK of looking to tempt veggies into eating its meat-based products.
GBK ultimately apologised and vowed to change its advertising.