Burger King has apologized for its advertising campaign that offered Russian women free Whoppers and a cash prize if they became pregnant by a World Cup soccer player.
The fast-food restaurant chain launched its campaign on VK, Russia's equivalent to Facebook, where it promised a lifetime supply of Whoppers, along with 3 million Russian rubles, which is equal to just over $47,000, the Guardian reported.
The company quickly pulled the ad on Tuesday after being hit with backlash.
"As soon as it was brought to our attention, we had it removed. It certainly does not reflect our brand or our values and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again," the media relations department from Burger King's U.S. headquarters wrote in a statement to USA Today Sports.
What did the campaign say?
Burger King Russia extended its offer to “girls who manage to get the best football genes” and “lay down the success of the Russian national football team," according to USA Today.
“It is a reward for the girls who would get pregnant from the international football superstars,” the ad continued.
Why did they do it?
Burger King Russia's ad came on the heels of comments made by a Russian lawmaker during a radio interview June 14, the same day the World Cup kicked off in Moscow.
Tamara Pletnyova, the chairwoman of the Duma committee on families, women, and children, lamented the rise in the number of single mothers and said that Russian women should avoid sleeping with World Cup players because Russian “women should give birth to our own," according to CNN.
Her remarks were in response to a question about a spike in babies fathered by foreign men after the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Birth control wasn't as available at that time.
Russians should marry each other and "build a good family, live together, give birth to children and educate them," she continued. "You know this perfectly well. It's fine if they're one race, but not if they're from a different race. I'm not a nationalist, but still. I know the children suffer, then they get abandoned and that's it, they stay with their mom here."
Did the Russian division apologize?
Yes, Burger King Russia posted an apology on VK after the campaign was taken down.
"We apologize for the statement we made. It turned out to be too insulting. We thank you for the feedback and hasten to inform you that we have already removed all materials related to the application," the company wrote on VK, which has been translated into English for this story.
What did Russians say about it?
One Russian politician called the ad "very stupid."
“It is a very stupid campaign … from the hellish people of the fast-food chain,” Russian State Duma leader Vitaly Milonov told reporters, according to USA Today. “[They are] trying to attract attention, not by improving the quality, but through silly offers.”
A 19-year-old student from Moscow told USA Today that this sort of advertising is nothing new for Russian women.
"It is normal for us," Ksenia Fadeeva said. "It is pathetic, but companies know they can appeal to the basic instincts of Russian men in this way. My male friends thought it was funny. We get used to this."