Updated 18.22 18.10.2018: GBK has released a statement offering “unreserved apologies to those who were offended.”
Struggling fast food chain, Gourmet Burger Kitchen has debuted an advertising campaign in support of a new, limited edition burger, The Ruby Murray. Under the catch phrase, “Proper Indian,” the group appears to be trying to elevate its own offering. Quite how remains a mystery, but in the advert, a representative of the restaurant group (probably an actor) stands outside individual Indian restaurants on Brick Lane in London with boards claiming that this burger — a spiced lamb patty, samosa relish (sic), papadum, raita, and mango chutney — is somehow better than the restaurant in question’s own food offering. Indeed, better than an actual curry. This actor, who is cast as purposefully obnoxious, is equipped with a megaphone, attempting to dissuade customers from entering the those restaurants.
He also teases business owners and prospective diners with phrases that include, “Your favourite curry is not authentic,” “Bengal Cuisine, we’ve cooked up something better,” and, “Monsoon, meet a Force 5 hurricane.” The campaign is accompanied by the hashtag #CurryWar. “Ruby Murray” is cockney rhyming slang for “curry.” Outside the restaurant Shaad restaurant on Brick Lane, a custom a-board features the message “Shaad, you’re gonna be shattered.”
The chain, which recently announced a £2.5 million loss over the first six months of 2018, is now being flamed by the internet. The original tweet (now deleted) announcing the campaign has been subjected to the dreaded “ratio,” in which the number of replies vastly outweighs likes and retweets. This is the tell-tale sign of a bad tweet.
Here’s just some of what those from inside and outside the industry had to say.
Jack Monroe, the British food writer, mocked the brand, calling it “gormless” while advising them “to get in the sea.” The latter directive is in reference to the Twitter handle, which specialises in “Highlighting people and things that need to get in the fucking sea.”
American journalist Khushbu Shah said it was “extremely fucked up.”
holy shit this is also extremely fucked up???? pic.twitter.com/TKdDpcK1D6— Khushbu Shah (@KhushAndOJ) October 18, 2018
A writer who specialises in Indian cuisine, Sejal Sukhadwala called the campaign “Jaw. Dropping...”
Food writer Debora Robertson had just one question.
What the hell are you thinking?— Debora Robertson (@lickedspoon) October 18, 2018
Earlier today, the Sunday Times critic Marina O’Loughlin commented on a piece of “edgy” marketing for burgers that are “purest shite.” It is unclear whether or not this is connected to this campaign.
I see another piece of deliberately 'edgy' fast food marketing is going on again for the clicks. Utter arses.— Marina O'Loughlin (@MarinaOLoughlin) October 18, 2018
(Also: the burgers are purest shite.)
James Lewis, marketing manager at Gauthier in Soho, asked whether he was the only one who thought it was “tongue in cheek?” He pointed to a possible source of inspiration for the advert. At the time of writing, 1 (one) person has responded.
Am I the only one who thinks this … er … tongue in cheek? Youtube ‘The English Cassoulet’ for the likely inspiration. https://t.co/PwIUUlQdVi— James Lewis (@JLewisland) October 18, 2018
Buzzfeed’s deputy global news director Ryan Broderick spoke to how the ad campaign “sucks in every conceivable way.”
I really cannot prepare you for how much this ad campaign fucking sucks in every conceivable way https://t.co/a54dIXgczW— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) October 18, 2018
Eater has contacted GBK managing director Derrian Nadauld for comment on the campaign. More soon.