The Memphis Flyer recently caught multiple local Burger King restaurants sporting big “Global Warming is Baloney” signs. The Burger King corporation quickly distanced itself from the controversy: “The two restaurants where these signs appeared are independently owned and operated and were not authorized to display this statement. The signs have since been removed.” However, Leo Hickman of the Guardian reports that many of the signs are still up, and the corporation in charge of the franchises — a Memphis-based company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation — is defending its position:
Media attempts to contact MIC to establish why it was taking an apparently defiant stance were rebuffed, but the Guardian managed to grill MIC’s marketing president, John McNelis.
“I would think [Burger King] would run from any form of controversy kinda like cockroaches when the lights get turned on,” said Mr McNelis. “I’m not aware of any direction that they gave the franchisee and I don’t think they have the authority to do it.”
McNelis added: “The [restaurant] management team can put the message up there if they want to. It is private property and here in the US we do have some rights. … Burger King can bluster all they want about what they can tell the franchisee to do, but we have free-speech rights in this country so I don’t think there’s any concerns.”
Susan Robison, vice president of corporate communications for BKC, responded that “BKC has guidelines for signage used by franchisees [which] were not followed. We have asked the franchisee to remove the signage and have been told that the franchisee will comply.”