MCD stock is in the red today after the company pulled its “Sundae Bloody Sundae” ad campaign in Portugal and issued an apology for any offense caused.
McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) had been running a promotional ad campaign in its Portuguese restaurants that inadvertently referred to Bloody Sunday, an event during the Northern Irish Troubles in which the British army massacred 14 unarmed protestors in the city of Derry on January 30, 1972. The Troubles refers to the conflict between Irish Republicans and the British Army, which took place over three decades from the late sixties up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. MCD stock is down 1.3% following the unfortunate mishap.
The ad campaign was intended to promote two-for-one sundaes over the Halloween period, and was possibly referencing the U2 song “Bloody Sunday,” which is based on the massacre, but instead drew heavy criticism on social media, with one Twitter user writing “McDonald’s is Cancelled.” A spokesperson for the fast-food giant said the ads were not intended to be an “insensitive reference to any historical event.” MCD shares are trading at $194.08 on Friday.
The Halloween howler is not the first such instance of a company making an inadvertent or insensitive reference to the conflict in Northern Ireland. In 2012, Nike (NYSE:NKE) was forced to apologize for nicknaming a sneaker “the Black and Tan,” which caused outrage among Irish Americans who said it referenced the vicious British Army unit known as the Black and Tans. Ben & Jerry’s also caused outrage in 2006 after releasing a Black and Tan ice cream.
McDonald’s promotional misfire adds further misery to MCD stock, which had dropped over 8% towards the end of August after quarterly earnings fell short of the mark for the first time in two years. Traffic to US stores, which accounts for a third of the company’s entire operations, was in decline as the restaurant chain ended a number of popular promotions. However, the company announced today it would be bringing back some customer favorite toys to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the iconic Happy Meal.
Elsewhere in the fast-food industry, McDonald’s close competitor Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) also saw its stock sink off the back of disappointing results.
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