Marketing bro tries to apologize for using human tragedy to sell burgers

Screenshot: Twitter

Z-Burger, a Washington, D.C. hamburger chain, has spent the last several days apologizing for exactly the kind of thing it should apologize for: using the brutal murder of a journalist to try to sell burgers on Twitter.

The journalist, James Foley, was beheaded by ISIS in Syria in 2014. This Z-Burger tweet, as described by The Washingtonian, uses that fact to make a “joke” to sell burgers. The tweet is described and not embedded here for reasons that will become obvious:

[It] juxtaposed a photo of the murdered American journalist James Foley awaiting execution by ISIS in 2014 with an image of a hamburger. The message from Z-Burger reads “When you say you want a burger and someone says okay let’s hit McDonalds.” Underneath the image of Foley was the message “You disgrace me.” The tweet has since been deleted.


About that last bit: Yeah, no shit.

Z-Burger’s statements can be summarized as “we’re sorry, but this is not our fucking fault”; they point the finger at their social media marketing firm, Valor Media, adding that the “understandable outrage” produced by the image has been “very difficult to endure,” and refers all future questions to Valor, specifically its founder Michael Valor.

You can read those statements here, here, here, here, and here. We’d embed them, but they are many, and you don’t want to miss the below. Essentially, Valor says his company completely takes the blame for sending this tweet, a decision in which he says Z-Burger had no involvement.

Here is the, ah, strangely high-strung apology from Michael Valor. It includes: approximately 100 mentions of his age (23); non-sequiturs about much he likes Starbucks; and the words “This was good in a sense that it drew awareness to an issue that could be drawn to.” Please view for yourself:


Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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You know, it sucks for the burger chain that this happened without their approval, but you hired THAT dipshit to market for you? You deserve what you get.

Guy Named Valor: “Hey, I’m straight out of college (or have been doing nothing but playing on Twitter for 4 years, either way) and I’m 23, so I know social media. I look like this on purpose and I seem like I might be on something, #hireme!”

Business Owner: “Hmmm...he seems like a straight shooter with good decision-making skills. You’re hired!”