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McDonald's apologizes for 'Sundae Bloody Sundae' Halloween promotion

The golden arches of McDonald's at an outlet in Westbury, New York.
Kickstand | E+ | Getty Images

McDonald's has canceled a promotion for a "Sundae Bloody Sundae" ice cream that was available in Portugal for Halloween.

The term "Bloody Sunday" was used to describe a massacre in Northern Ireland that took place January 30, 1972. It is considered one of the most significant events of "The Troubles," a conflict in the region that ran for three decades. Thirteen people were killed by the British army on Bloody Sunday.

The two-for-one "Sundae Bloody Sundae" promotion was heavily criticized on social media. A spokesperson for McDonald's Portugal said the ads were not intended to be an "insensitive reference to any historical event," according to a statement emailed to CNBC on Thursday.

"We sincerely apologize for any offence or distress this may have caused," the spokesperson added.

One social media user wrote "Portugal is canceled," on Twitter, while another commented: "On the scale of epic #prfail, this has to be up there with @KylieJenner's Pepsi ad."

Promotional material that appeared at a small number of McDonald's restaurants has been removed, according to the spokesperson.

This isn't the first time a brand has referenced British and Irish unrest. In 2012, Nike apologized for nicknaming a sneaker "the Black and Tan," which caused outrage among Irish Americans who said it referenced the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, known as the Black and Tans. The police force, reportedly a brain child of Winston Churchill in the 1920s, was notoriously ruthless in their pursuit of Irish revolutionaries and was blamed for the killing of innocent civilians.

A spokesperson for McDonald's had not responded to CNBC's request for comment at the time of publication.

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