GBK gets heat for declaring a curry war

By on Thursday, October 18, 2018

The last time I recall seeing an obnoxious white man standing outside an Asian business and harassing the owner was in news coverage about a Britain First gathering, maybe an EDL march. It’s definitely not a pretty sight at a time when racism and intolerance is on the increase.

Which brings us neatly onto the new Proper Indian campaign from Gourmet Burger Kitchen, a campaign so ‘unwoke’ it’s in a coma. Its been lurking largely undetected since late September but appeared on my Twitter feed this afternoon with a very long thread of appalled comments, most along the line of ‘What were you thinking?’, ‘Take this down now’ and “Never going to GBK ever again’.

As a general rule when planning a campaign there’s a few questions to ask before activating. One: What’s the story? Two: Who will give a shit about this idea? and 3: What could go wrong?

Looking at the response on social media quite a lot has gone wrong with this idea, which should have been blindingly obvious had this question been asked.

When a brand wants to create a bit of mischief, always punch up (the market leaders, major corporations, ego-centric celebs, Trump, Putin etc). Never punch down. Don’t take a swipe at the little guy, least of all small businesses on the high street who are struggling to stay afloat as it is (in part, due landlords putting up rents to drive them out of business and attract chain restaurants such as GBK).

And then onto the main point, the optics. A white man protesting outside an Asian business and questioning the authenticity of their Indian food is a terrible idea. At a time when ethnic minorities are reporting an increase in harassment and abuse in the UK and across Europe this is poorly judged. Brands should be doing more something more positive than declaring curry war and declaring themselves a ‘Proper Indian’ on Asian businesses (not all of which will be Indian, but also Bangladeshi or Pakistani).

While the brand may say (and I haven’t asked) that’s supposed to be fun or a ‘bit of banter’ (the common defence for being a bit of a twat) this looks more like a Dom Joly stunt that was co-written by Tommy Robinson.

A smarter move would’ve been a collaboration with an independent curry house or chef to create the burger. That’s authentic, inclusive and positive. We should make burgers, not war!

UPDATE: Within hours of posting this piece and media outlets picking up the social backlash, GBK has removed the campaign with an apology posted on Twitter.



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