Viral marketing fail: McDonald's pulls controversial video child bereavement ad

Digital marketing industry case study library

McDonald's has withdrawn a controversial video ad after a huge social media backlash, with one charity accusing it of exploiting child bereavement.


The advert

The advert went live on May 12 across social media and on UK TV, depicting a boy talking with his mother about his dead father and wondering what they had in common.

He is then shown sitting in one of the fast-food giant's restaurants with his mother, where she reveals they shared a love of the same burger, a Filet-o-Fish, with the mother saying: "That was your dad's favourite too."

Watch the ad in full below:

The reaction

However, the ad received a massive backlash on social media with people accusing the chain of exploiting the emotions of children who’ve lost parents.

Bereavement charity Grief Encounter said it had received "countless calls" from parents of bereaved children saying it had upset them.

McDonald's initially apologised for the advert, with a spokesman saying: "We wanted to highlight the role McDonald's has played in our customers' everyday lives – both in good and difficult times.

The campaign, from London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett, was scheduled to run for seven weeks.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received about 100 complaints regarding the advert as of Monday (May 15).

Viewers complained it was inappropriate and insensitive to use bereavement and grief to sell fast good, with some referencing how close the airing is to Father's Day.

A spokeswoman said: "We're carefully assessing the complaints, but no decision has been reached on whether there are grounds to launch an investigation."

One in 29 children in the UK is bereaved of a parent or sibling by the age of 16, according to Grief Encounter, which offers support to bereaved children and their families.

Copyright ©2000-2024 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy