McDonald’s has apologised for “upset” caused by a TV advert, which consumers and charity workers accused of exploiting childhood bereavement.
The fast food chain’s latest British ad depicts a boy struggling to find something in common with his dead dad. Then, in a McDonald’s restaurant, he orders a Filet-o-Fish, and his mum comments: “That was your dad’s favourite too.”
Bereavement charity Grief Encounter told the Daily Mail it had received “countless calls” from parents explaining their bereaved children had been upset by the ad.
Dr Shelley Gilbert, founder and president of charity Grief Encounter, said: “McDonald’s have attempted to speak to their audience via an emotionally driven TV campaign.
“However, what they have done is exploit childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike – unsuccessfully.
“We fully support children and surviving parents remembering loved ones with memory boxes, family experiences which remind them of happier times and openly talking about the member of the family that has died.
“But trying to insinuate that a brand can cure all ills with one meal is insensitive and shouldn’t be a way to show that a brand recognises ‘the big moments in life’.”
The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received complaints regarding the advert. “As always, we’ll carefully assess them to see whether there are grounds to investigate,” it said:
A spokesperson for McDonald’s has apologised for any upset caused by the advert, adding: “This was by no means an intention of ours. We wanted to highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives – both in good and difficult times.”
The advertising campaign, created by London-based ad agency Leo Burnett, first aired on May 12 and is due to run for seven weeks.
Leo Burnett has headed up McDonald’s UK advertising since the early 1980s. Its website states: “We’ve made an American goliath as British as fish and chips, by confronting urban myths and re-buidling the nations trust in the brand.”