AMERICAN fast food chain McDonald’s has apologised for a British-themed St Patrick’s Day advertisement for its seasonal ‘Shamrock Shake’.
A 10-second clip – now deleted – featured a red-haired man dressed in Scottish tartan with the historic English landmark Stonehenge in the background.
The ‘Irishman’ is seen playing the milkshake as if it was a set of bagpipes while sheep roam around the landscape.
McDonald’s took down the advertisement after it was lambasted by social media users and denounced as insensitive.
"Bagpipes and Stonehenge not instantly springing to mind when I think of Ireland,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another said: “Are the sheep Irish? Because nothing else in this picture is.”
The bagpipes are not considered an Irish instrument in the way Uilleann pipes are, despite a strong piping tradition in the Emerald Isle.
While the inclusion of Scottish symbols could be excused, most of the criticism directed at McDonald’s came from the use of an English landmark with no connection to Ireland whatsoever.
After a complaint from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternity headquartered in the US, the American fast food chain issued an apologetic statement.
Robert Gibbs, Executive Vice President for Corporate Relations, said: “That piece of content was not representative of McDonald’s or its values and we apologize for it.
“As a result, we moved quickly last Friday to take it down and also issued a public apology.
“Please know that McDonald’s is strongly supportive of Ireland and respectful of its culture.”
He added: “Our restaurants are a major purchaser of Irish beef and produce. We also support farmers in Ireland through programs like Farm Forward, which encourages the sustainable future of Irish farming.”
The ‘Shamrock Shake’ is a green-dyed, mint-flavoured milkshake dessert sold at McDonald's during March to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
The drink has remained popular since it was first sold in 1970, and was even mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons in 2007.