Whichever way you slice it, Domino’s “Karen” promotion in New Zealand was destined to fail.
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The American pizza giant’s branch in the country decided to give actual Karens a break since their name has turned into a derogatory term for entitled white women in social media.
In a bid to give the women a break from the negative connotation, the chain launched a giveaway called “Calling all (nice) Karens” on its New Zealand and Australian sites, the BBC reported.
It asked women named Karen to describe in 250 words how they were one of the “nice ones.”
“The name ‘Karen’ has become synonymous with anyone who is entitled, selfish and likes to complain,” Domino’s regional chief marketing officer Allan Collins said in the promotion.
“What used to be a light-hearted meme has become quite the insult to anyone actually named Karen,” he said.
“Well, today we’re taking the name Karen back. At Domino’s, we’re all about bringing people together and we want to celebrate all the great Karens out there by shouting them a free pizza!” Collins added.
Alas, Domino’s was left eating humbling pie after the promotion was roundly denounced.
Many argued that “Karen negativity” was an issue that affected mostly “privileged white women,” according to the BBC.
“Most of the time Karens are entitled privileged white women. If a few people actually called Karen can’t handle the meme they should try handling 400 years of oppression,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“When you wanna reward more privilege to the most privileged in our society,” another person said. “Please Dominos, stop. Karens ask to speak to the manager and actively try to get low wage workers fired, yet another tweeted. “Karens put people at risk by refusing to wear a mask. Karens don’t need your defense.”
Domino’s New Zealand quickly offered a mea culpa on Facebook.
“We are sorry. Throughout COVID-19 we’ve tried to bring a smile to customers faces, with our pizza and our social media,” its statement reads.
“Our post came off the back of a number of situations in Victoria, Australia which received international media coverage, including in New Zealand. A person who decided they didn’t have to follow the mandate and wear a mask and took it out on retail workers; a person who breached a COVID-19 checkpoint, potentially endangering others; a person who was bored walking in her neighbourhood.
“We wanted to bring a smile to customers who are doing the right thing – Karen the nurse, Karen the teacher, Karen the mum.
“In New Zealand, because it lacked this important context, people interpreted this in a different way than we intended. We appreciate how this has happened and have listened – we’ve removed this post.”
Domino’s Australia still appeared to have the same offer up on it page, according to the BBC, which said it has contacted it for comment.