Burger King Russia Nixes Ad That Promises Free Whoppers to Women Impregnated by World Cup Players

The spot was pulled after hitting the wrong note

Burger King has removed a post after critics called it demeaning toward women. Getty Images, Burger King
Headshot of Diana Pearl

Burger King Russia has pulled a World Cup-themed social media campaign that said it would reward women who were impregnated by soccer stars with free Whoppers—and cold hard cash.

On the brand’s VK—a Russian social media network that’s essentially the country’s own version of Facebook—account, Burger King’s Russian branch shared a photo of a pregnant woman cradling her stomach.

Alongside the photo, the brand offered up 3 million Russian rubles (just over $47,000) and a lifetime’s worth of free Whoppers if they were able to prove that they had been impregnated by one of the soccer (or over there, football) players competing in this year’s World Cup.

Burger King's post on Russian social media network VK

According to the AP, the post said that the motivation behind Burger King’s offering was to procure “the best football genes” and “ensure the success of the Russian team for generations to come.” Critics of the social media ad called it sexist and offensive to women, and the post was soon taken down.

On Tuesday, after the post was removed from its account, Burger King issued an apology: “We offer apologies for the announcement we made. It was too offensive. We are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.”

Burger King in Russia has come under fire for its advertisements before: In early 2017, it came out with an advertisement for a buy one, get one free offer featuring an illustration of a 17-year-old girl who had been raped and beaten.

Ironically, the concept featured in Burger King Russia’s ad—encouraging a country’s women to procreate with the intention of creating better soccer players—had been used before. A spot for Irn-Bru, a Scottish carbonated beverage, that was released ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, imagined a future where Scots had coupled with Brazilians to create the best possible team for World Cup 2034.

@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.