McDonald’s ran into controversy after releasing an advertisement in the United Kingdom to promote their Fillet-o-Fish in 2017. The ad tells the story of a son following the death of his father, and after learning that he and his dad didn’t have much in common, his mother reveals that they both liked McDonald’s fish sandwich.
According to CNN, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority received over 150 complaints regarding the ad. People criticized the advertisement for exploiting childhood bereavement, or using a father’s death to sell sandwiches.
Granted, reception to the advertisement wasn’t unanimously negative. In addition to some more positive tweets and comments, one of the most viewed videos of the ad on Youtube holds a relatively even 2,012:2,167 like-to-dislike ratio.
Regardless, McDonald’s pulled the ad from television circulation and issued apologies for the ad.
“This was by no means an intention of ours,” said a McDonald’s spokesperson with regards to people calling the ad “offensive” and “insensitive.” “We wanted to highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives – both in good and difficult times.”
Questions that emerge from this advertising faux pas may include if sensitive subjects like death should even be used in ads like these, and if so, to what extent should advertisements incorporate these kind of taboo concepts?