While everyone was congratulating women on International Women’s Day, Burger King UK decided to do something different. In what appears to have been a desperate attempt to get exposure, the fast-food chain tweeted that “Women belong in the kitchen.”

The message was meant to inform about a new initiative Burger King has launched to help increase the number of women in head-chef roles. But people weren’t buying it.

Many Twitter users said the company’s initial tweet (which was followed in a thread by an explanation of the initiative) was tone-deaf.  Some even vowed to not eat at the chain anymore.

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Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King’s parent company, Fer Machado, said on Twitter the company is “indeed sorry” about how the tweet in question came across. “The intention behind the activity is actually good. Taking it down would give even more attention to it. Believe it or not, I deeply care about doing the right thing. Will do better next time,” he said.

The tweet was followed by a couple of messages, explaining the initiative it was meant to promote

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Following the backlash, the company told Insider in an emailed statement that, “Our tweet in the UK today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women.”

“It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity.”

People and companies immediately thought it was a mistake

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In its statement, the company stressed it is committed to helping women break through the male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants. The fast-food giant said it is doing this by creating the Burger King Helping Equalize Restaurants, or HER, scholarship to support employees pursue a degree in culinary arts.

The slogan even made it to print

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“This is a start in doing our small part to help women in the culinary field achieve their ultimate goal,” the company said in the press release, adding that women occupy only 7% of head-chef positions in restaurants.

Eventually, the backlash got so big, Burger King realized they might have been in the wrong

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Speaking to Fast Company, Machado said that social engagement is something the brand typically does very well and puts a lot of thought into. “We don’t force-fit executions into different media. We always try to take into consideration what works well in each specific medium and make sure the asset is tailored for that use. In this specific case, we agree, it could have been done better. Hopefully, people will be able to see thru it and understand the real intention behind the activity we are doing.”

When asked if he would do it differently given the chance, Machado said, “The roll out plan in some other markets, like the U.S., was already different. But we are surely taking a second look into it so that our intention is better reflected [in] the way we execute. We are always learning here and trying to do better.”

But people think it’s already too late and the damage is done

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