McDonald’s pulled a new television ad from the air and released an apology after viewers accused the company of exploiting childhood bereavement.
The “Dad” ad, as it has been dubbed, portrays a young boy talking to his mom about his father, who has passed away, and is due to be “removed from all media, including TV and cinema, completely and permanently this week”, said the company.
“It was never our intention to cause any upset,” a spokesperson stated.
“We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us, our customers.”
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The ad portrays a boy talking to his mom about his late father and wondering if the two of them were similar in any ways.
As they both sat in a local McDonald’s restaurant, the boy is ready to eat his Filet-o-Fish sandwich, to which the mother said: “That was your dad’s favourite too.”
The ad was followed with widespread criticism throughout social media, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reported that viewers complained about the ad’s insensitivity and inappropriate content.
A bereavement charity named Grief Encounter reported that it too received “countless calls” from parents that said their grieving children were upset by content seen in the ad.
The president and founder of the bereavement charity, Dr Shelley Gilbert, said “trying to insinuate that a brand can cure all ills with one meal is insensitive”.
“We are pleased that McDonald’s has listened to the viewing public and withdrawn the campaign,” she stated.
“The fact that we have been able to bring children’s grief awareness and the importance of not trivialising such a vulnerable section of society is important in itself, and we can see how the brand were trying to speak to people on an emotional level.”
“However, of course, they did go about this all the wrong way.”