McDonald's apologises for British TV ad accused of exploiting childhood bereavement

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McDonald’s apologises with bereavement advertisement.
McDonald’s apologises with bereavement advertisement.PHOTO: MCDONALD's

McDonald's has apologised for "upset" caused by a TV advertisement in Britain which charity campaigners said "exploits childhood bereavement".

The advertisement shows a boy struggling to find something in common with his dead father, until it is revealed they shared the same favourite menu item.

The campaign has received complaints from widows who called it "offensive", as well as beareavement charities who received "countless calls" from upset parents, the BBC reported.

A McDonald's spokesman was quoted by the BBC as saying: "This was by no means an intention of ours.

"We wanted to highlight the role McDonald's has played in our customers' everyday lives - both in good and difficult times."

The fast food giant's latest advertisement, from London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett, first aired on May 12 and is scheduled to run for seven weeks.

In it, a boy asks his mother about his absent father, whom she goes on to reminisce about. The boy wonders if he and his father had anything in common, until he arrives at a McDonald's restaurant and orders a Filet-o-Fish. His mother tells him: "That was your dad's favourite too."

Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has also received complaints regarding the advert, and said it would "carefully assess them to see whether there are grounds to investigate", the BBC reported.

UK bereavement charity Grief Encounter has received "countless calls" from parents who said that their bereaved children were upset by the advert.

One in 29 children in Britain are bereaved of a parent or sibling by the time they are 16, according to the charity which offers support to bereaved children and their families.

Said its founder and president Shelley Gilbert: "McDonald's have attempted to speak to their audience via an emotionally driven TV campaign.

"However, what they have done is exploit childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike - unsuccessfully.

"We fully support children and surviving parents remembering loved ones with memory boxes, family experiences which remind them of happier times and openly talking about the member of the family that has died.

"But trying to insinuate that a brand can cure all ills with one meal is insensitive and shouldn't be a way to show that a brand recognises 'the big moments in life'."