ROME – A Burger King advertisement in Spain sparked controversy during Holy Week. The advertising campaign promoted the company’s range of vegetarian options by paraphrasing the formula for the Consecration. Following an uproar on social media, the giant fast-food chain was forced to remove it.
The company changed the phrases “Take and eat all of it because this is my body” to “Take and eat all of it. There is no meat in it”; or “Flesh of my flesh” to “Vegetable of my vegetable.” The goal was to attract the millions of Catholics who don’t eat red meat on Fridays during lent, particularly on Good Friday.
The campaign was criticized on social media, with users calling on people to #BoicotBurgerKing, which became a trending topic in Spain.
After receiving criticism, both for the campaign and the decision to release it on Holy Week, the company apologized and announced the decision to withdraw it.
Through Twitter, Burger King stated: “We apologize to all those who have been offended by our campaign aimed at promoting our vegetable products at Easter. Our intention has never been to offend anyone and the immediate withdrawal of the campaign has already been requested.”
Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of Orihuela-Alicante responded to the announcement by lamenting, “apparently, the loss of culinary taste and the lack of respect for religious feelings go hand in hand.”
Thousands of social media users denounced the campaign as blasphemous and added the company would not dare launch a similar campaign mocking the Jewish Passover or Islam’s month of Ramadan, to promote kosher products or inviting people to have a burger after sunset.
There were users who found the campaign funny and inoffensive, and others said the Catholic Church had no right to be offended by the campaign due the clerical sexual abuse crisis.
The Catholic Church in Spain today is facing strong criticism for the way it handled these cases.
Congress recently approved a resolution to create a commission dedicated to investigating clerical abuse crimes. After initially refusing to conduct their own nationwide investigation into historic abuse allegations, the bishops announced the creation of their own commission last month.