McDonald's has become one of the world's biggest brands thanks in no small part to its adverts. But while it might be behind some of the best print ads (opens in new tab) we've seen, a recent poster campaign spotted in its Portugal stores has provoked an online backlash so intense that it's been forced to remove them from display.
The posters in question promote a Halloween-themed two-for-one offer on McDonald's strawberry sundaes with the phrase 'Sundae Bloody Sundae'.
Considering that Bloody Sunday is a term used to refer to one of the worst days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, when 13 people were shot dead by the army, it's an unfortunate choice of words to say the least.
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As is the case with these sorts of mistakes, the posters were promptly distributed online for everyone to pick apart and shame. Twitter user @bigmonsterlove (opens in new tab) shared an image of the posters taken by James Timoney (opens in new tab) with the caption: "Portugal is cancelled", which soon went viral.
Portugal is cancelled. pic.twitter.com/X1egoGRq9jOctober 30, 2019
In the replies, Twitter users soon began the back-and-forth debate over whether or not the posters were an honest mistake. We think @bigmonsterlove summed things up well by saying, "I'm not pissed off, but like an ad agency clearly didn't do its homework, or did and maybe knew it would ruffle feathers."
In response to the controversy, a spokeswoman for McDonald's Portugal told the BBC (opens in new tab): "We sincerely apologise for any offence or distress this may have caused."
She then explained that the campaign was intended as a celebration of Halloween, not as an insensitive reference to any historical event or to upset or insult anyone.
This isn't the first design fail to strike McDonald's recently. Back in August thirsty patrons in McDonald's Japan spotted an accidentally smutty side to its summer romance themed cups (opens in new tab).
At least McDonald's France seems to be getting its posters right. In July it used minimalist ads inspired by French fries (opens in new tab) to guide motorists to the nearest store.
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