02/21/2014 21:21 EST | Updated 04/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Montreal bar’s social media posts spark outrage

A bar in the district of Rosemont—La-Petite-Patrie has sparked outrage with some of its recent online posts, which some say are offensive and promote violence against women.

One tweet posted by the bar read "I like my violence like I like my beer: domestic."

Another social media post showed the bar’s sandwich board with the message, “Pick up line of the day: Does this handkerchief smell like chloroform?”

Julie Michaud, a coordinator at the Centre for gender advocacy, says she’s very concerned.

“It's definitely bound to get a reaction...but it's also definitely sexist,” Michaud said, adding that even if the bar owners were joking, the messages are still offensive.

“It actually doesn't make any difference whether [their] intention was to be funny and make people laugh. The reality is the impact of the words [they] chose was hurtful and hateful."

Apology given

At first, the bar owners called the promotional comments “dark humour” and said they were references to a movie.

“We thought it was harmless. It wasn’t intended to offend anyone, or condone rape or violence. It’s dark humour,” read a post on the bar’s social media page.

But late Thursday, the owners apologized on Facebook, saying the comments were in bad taste and lacked judgement.

Marketing fail: expert

Marketing experts say trying to provoke public reaction is a common publicity tool — but in this case, the business owners went too far.

"The key to being edgy or clever is that the people who are your target market audience think it’s clever. My concern is people don't think this is clever,” said Gary Gebhardt, an associate professor of marketing at HEC Montréal.

Gebhardt also says the adage ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is wrong.

“You have people who didn't know about the bar before, and now know it in a very bad [light]. This is a total backfire,” he said, adding that the bar can redeem itself by hosting an event to raise awareness about domestic violence.