Death ad backlash: McDonald’s forced to apologize after ad shows boy grieving dead father
The British ad promoting the fast food giant’s fish burger shows a mother and son discussing the boy’s late father as the child struggles to find something in common with his dad.
As the pair sit down to eat at McDonald’s, the mother tells the boy that his father had the same favorite meal – Filet-O-Fish.
Viewers have slammed the TV commercial as “exploitative” and “disgusting,” with some calling it a new low for the fast-food brand.
I genuinely don't think I've ever seen anything as cynical and exploitative as the new @McDonalds advert. Shameless, even by their standards— Jack Alex Turner (@JackAlexTurner) May 12, 2017
That new #McDonalds advert is absolutely shit, nothing in common with his dad but hey liked the same thing on the menu, are they for real 🖕🏻— Graeme Ford (@GraemeFordy) May 12, 2017
Have you seen that new McDonalds advert? Your dead dad was better than you at everything, but you both ate cheap burgers like pigs— James Robinson (@jamesisrobinson) May 15, 2017
The new McDonalds advert shown during #BGT, with a Filet-o-Fish reminding a kid of his dead Dad is enough reason as any to elect Corbyn. FFS— Steve Topple (@MrTopple) May 13, 2017
Others wrote that it brought back memories of their own parental loss and criticized it for its insensitivity and crass use of bereavement.
I am sickened and disgusted by this advert. Lost my dad at 9. Memories? Yes .Burger? No! Shameful ad #McDonalds— Cate Wilson (@Cate43) May 12, 2017
New #McDonalds advert, cynically using the story of a kid's dead dad is trashy beyond belief. Who needs 2 parents when you have McNuggets?— Tony Richman (@TonyLRichman) May 12, 2017
McDonald’s UK apologized for any upset caused and stated that it was reviewing customer feedback.
@xsamuelking It wasn’t our intention to cause any upset with this advert and we’re reviewing all customer feedback at the moment— McDonald's UK (@McDonaldsUK) May 15, 2017
The UK Advertising Standards Authority confirmed it had received complaints about the ad and was assessing if there were grounds for investigation.
@JackAlexTurner Hi. We have received complaints about the ad. As always, we'll carefully assess them to see whether there are grounds to investigate.— ASA (@ASA_UK) May 15, 2017
The ad was created by Leo Burnett London, an agency that has worked on campaigns for the company for over 20 years.
The advertising agency said in a statement upon the release of the ad that it was aimed at 20- to 44-year-olds and was trying to “generate affinity with the brand by reminding the audience what they love about McDonald’s.”
“In serving over 3 million people daily, a lot of human stories pass through McDonald’s doors every day.
“As we all know, life isn’t perfect, and life can be challenging. Hopefully this heartfelt story reflects that with the poignancy it deserves,” said Peter Heyes, creative director at Leo Burnett.
It appears some people connected with the ad in the way Leo Burnett hoped, describing it as “emotional.”
Just welled up watching a McDonalds advert, in case you were wondering how my Sunday is going pic.twitter.com/7ATXHlIrQf— Laura Jennings (@Laura_Jennings) May 14, 2017
Me: After watching the new McDonalds advert. pic.twitter.com/zkv6OTuCef— Nicole Alii (@NicoleAlii) May 13, 2017
The campaign first aired on British TV on May 12 and was scheduled to run for seven weeks.