Burger King defends ‘tongue-in-cheek’ milkshake tweet after it was banned for encouraging antisocial behaviour

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage after being hit with a milkshake in Newcastle during a campaign walkabout for European elections. (AP)

A Burger King tweet that told customers the chain was “selling milkshakes all weekend" – sent after a McDonald's temporarily stopped selling the drinks ahead of a Brexit Party rally – has been banned for condoning antisocial behaviour.

The 18 May tweet by the fast-food chain 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 leader Nigel Farage.

The tweet followed a spate of dairy-based incidents involving right-wing politicians.

The Burger King tweet was deemed irresponsible. (PA)

Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin both had food and drinks thrown at them during the European election campaign.

Robinson was drenched by milkshakes twice in two days as he campaigned in the North West of England.

Mr Farage was himself doused in milkshake during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle, days after his Edinburgh appearance.

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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 antisocial 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 burger chain 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.”

Close-up of Nigel Farage's milkshake-doused suit. (Getty)

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 antisocial 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 antisocial behaviour.”

A sign in a McDonald's restaurant in Edinburgh after a police request not to sell milkshakes or ice cream. (PA)

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."