A gourmet burger chain has publicly apologised for poking fun at Chris Brown's assault case against Rihanna as part of an online promotion.

Velvet Burger, which has stores in Auckland and Dunedin, advertised a "smashing good deal" for two-for-one burgers on its Facebook page today, with an accompanying logo saying 'Beatings by Chris Brown'.

The American R&B star in 2009 pleaded guilty to assaulting his former pop star girlfriend, which left her battered and bruised.

In an online backlash, many accused the ad of being in bad taste and condoning domestic violence. Others vowed to never eat at the chain again.


"Humour has its place but not at 51 per cent of the population's expense," wrote Giang Ham.

Others said they weren't offended by the posting.

Velvet owner James Arnott said an Otago University student ran the company's social media, and the ad was pulled after "a couple of hours" when management became aware of it.

It has since been replaced with an apology.

"Velvet Burger would like to apologise about this morning's status. It was in bad taste and we were in no way trying to glorify or promote domestic abuse. It's not okay!" said the post.

"The post doesn't represent our company at all and it's not our intention to offend anybody,' added Mr Arnott.

The university student has run the company's social media for about 18 months and today's incident was a 'wake-up call", Mr Arnott said.

"He's got free reign and I think we'll have to review that going forward."

It is not the first controversial burger promotion linked to Brown that has caused offence.

Earlier this year, American restaurant Chops & Hops in Georgia caused widespread anger after adding Brown-inspired burger 'Black & Bleu' to its menu.

The burger contained blue cheese and the restaurant introduced it online saying "Chris Brown won't beat you up for eating this unless your name starts with a R and ends with A."

In response to criticism it pulled the burger and issued a statement saying it did not condone domestic violence.