Fast food chain McDonald’s has apologised if its new advert, which marries the theme of child bereavement with a Filet-o-Fish, has caused upset to viewers.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has so far received around 100 complaints.
The advert was first screened last week and shows a boy asking his mother about his deceased father.
It turns out that the boy has little in common with his late dad, until he arrives with his mother at a McDonald’s and it transpires that the boy enjoys a Filet-o-Fish in just the same way that his father did.
“That was your dad’s favourite too,” the mother tells her son in the advert.
The ad caused a backlash on social media and among bereavement charities.
Dr Shelley Gilbert, president of the children’s bereavement charity Grief Encounter, told the Guardian: “What [McDonald’s] have done is exploited childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike – unsuccessfully.
“One in 29 children are bereaved of a parent or sibling by the time they are 16 years of age, so this storyline will resonate with a huge number of children and surviving parents.
“We have already received countless phone calls this morning, with parents telling us their bereaved children have been upset by the advert and alienated by McDonald’s as a brand that wants to emotionally manipulate its customers.”
A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “We apologise for any upset this advert has caused. This was by no means an intention of ours.”
The company does not currently have plans to pull the advertisement.
A spokesman for the ASA said: “Complainants have objected that it is inappropriate and insensitive to use bereavement and grief to sell fast food. Some complainants have referenced the proximity to Father’s Day.
“We’re carefully assessing the complaints but no decision has been reached on whether there are grounds to launch an investigation.”
Videos from The Caterer archives