McDonald’s was forced to apologize for the advertisement.

McDonald's Screenshot

McDonald’s Apologizes for Controversial Ad That Exploits a Child’s Grief

In a British McDonald’s commercial, a young boy’s love of the Filet-o-Fish helps him cope with his father’s death
McDonald’s was forced to apologize for the advertisement.

McDonald's Screenshot

McDonald’s was forced to apologize for the advertisement.

We’ve seen our fair share of controversial commercials meant to get people talking, but this particular McDonald’s advertisement that conflated grief with fast-food struck a nerve with viewers.

The McDonald’s advertisement (which aired in the U.K.) depicts a young boy asking his mother to share stories about his deceased father. At first, the boy is dismayed to learn that he doesn’t appear to have much in common with his late father — until his mom mentions, after he orders a Filet-o-Fish: “That was your dad’s favorite too.”

Viewers called it exploitative, and hundreds of complaints flooded the British Advertising Standards Authority, although no decision was made to pull the ad. McDonald’s eventually announced that they would be pulling the commercial themselves:

“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,” a McDonald’s spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

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It looks like this ad won’t make the Top 10 Most Memorable Commercials of All Time.