McDonald’s has sparked controversy with its newest advertisement. The restaurant chain received backlash from the public after it recently launched the ad, which many said was exploiting childhood bereavement.
The video titled “Dad”, first screened last week, showed a boy asking his mom about his dead father. The boy looked sad as he discovered that he and his dad didn’t seem to have a lot of things in common. Then they arrived at a McDonald’s restaurant and after he ordered a Filet –O-Fish, he looked happy as his mom told him that it was his dad’s favorite food too.
For most viewers, the ad might seem far from harmful. But a bunch of other people found the clip disturbing, considering the fact that there are so many bereaved children not only in the U.S., but also all over the world.
“I am sickened and disgusted by this advert. Lost my dad at 9. Memories? Yes. Burger? No! Shameful ad #McDonalds,” one Twitter user shared her opinion on the McDonalds ad. “What [McDonald’s] have done is exploited childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike- unsuccessfully,” said Shelley Gilbert, a psychotherapist who founded the children’s bereavement charity Grief Encounter.
“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,” she continued. “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.”
Following the criticism, McDonalds issued an apology earlier this week and announced that it had pulled the ad from TV screens. “We can confirm today that we have taken the decision to withdraw our ‘Dad’ TV advert. The advert will be removed from all media, including TV and cinema, completely and permanently this week,” the company’s spokeswoman said.
“It was never our intention to cause any upset. We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us: our customers.”