Otley Burger Company ad featuring Madeleine McCann banned

20 April 2022 by
Otley Burger Company ad featuring Madeleine McCann banned

A Mother's Day advertisement run by the Otley Burger Company that used the image of missing child Madeleine McCann has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for causing ‘unjustified distress and serious and widespread offence'.

A tweet by the West Yorkshire-based company on 27 March 2022 featured an image of Madeleine McCann and her mother Kate, and said: "With burgers this good, you'll leave your kids at home. What's the worst that could happen".

In the background a man was shown running with a smaller image of Madeleine McCann in his hands. Text at the bottom of the post added: "Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there."

Similar imagery and wording were also used in Facebook and Instagram posts. Following complaints, the ASA investigated the posts.

Although the company argued the image was a meme and featured no product placement, and was therefore not advertising, it removed the adverts and said they would not appear again.

The ASA considered the posts were within the remit of the CAP Code, which states that marketing communications must not contain anything likely to cause serious or widespread offence. It also states that advertisers must not use a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention.

The ASA judged that any reference to a missing child was likely to be distressing, and that in the context of an ad promoting a burger company, the distress caused was unjustified. It also said the ads trivialised the circumstances surrounding McCann's disappearance and made light of a distressing news story concerning reports of child abduction and serious crime.

It further judged that the posting of the ads on Mother's Day was intended to further add to the shock factor and offensive nature of the ads and was likely to have compounded the distress of those who saw them, particularly those who may have experienced the disappearance of a child.

The ASA concluded that the ads were likely to cause unjustified distress and serious and widespread offence and must not appear again.

Image: @TheOtleyBurgerCompany / Facebook

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