A Burger King tweet alerting customers that it was “selling milkshakes all weekend” – after right-wing figures had the drinks thrown at them – has been banned for condoning and encouraging anti-social behaviour.
The tweet by the fast food chain on May 18 read: “Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK. #justsaying”
Burger King posted the tweet the day after a McDonald’s outlet in Edinburgh temporarily stopped selling milkshakes or ice cream by “police request” ahead of a Brexit Party rally to be addressed by Nigel Farage.
It followed a spate of dairy-based incidents involving right-wing politicians.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, known as Tommy Robinson, and Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin both had food and drinks thrown at them during the European election campaign.
Former English Defence League leader Mr Yaxley-Lennon was drenched by milkshakes twice in two days as he campaigned in the north-west of England.
Mr Farage was also later doused in milkshake during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle, days after his Edinburgh appearance.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said 24 people complained that Burger King’s tweet was irresponsible and offensive because they believed it encouraged violence and anti-social behaviour.
Burger King defended the tweet, saying it was intended to be a “tongue-in-cheek reaction to recent events where milkshakes had been thrown at political figures”.
The retailer said it did not endorse violence, which it made clear with a follow-up tweet reading: “We’d never endorse violence – or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.”
The ASA said: “Although we acknowledged that the tweet may have been intended as a humorous response to the suspension of milkshake sales by the advertiser’s competitor, in the context in which it appeared we considered it would be understood as suggesting that Burger King milkshakes could be used instead by people to ‘milkshake’ Nigel Farage.
“We considered the ad therefore condoned the previous anti-social behaviour and encouraged further instances. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”
The ASA added: “We told Burger King to ensure that its future marketing communications did not condone or encourage anti-social behaviour.”
A Burger King spokesman said: “Our tweet regarding the situation in Edinburgh was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the situation. It appears some have misinterpreted this as an endorsement of violence, which we absolutely reject.
“At Burger King, we totally believe in individuals’ right to freedom of expression and would never do anything that conflicts with this. We’d never endorse violence or wasting our delicious milkshakes.”