The 90-second spot produced by London-based advertising firm Leo Burnett depicts a despondent young boy asking his mother to describe his deceased father to him, ultimately learning that they share the same favorite McDonald’s menu item, the BBC reports.
The ad was met with a flood of negative comments on social media, some users branding it “shameful” and “cynical,” claiming it exploited the emotional trauma of childhood grief to sell sandwiches.
A spokesperson for the fast food chain told the BBC that it was “by no means an intention of ours” to cause offense, adding that the ad was meant to “highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives—both in good and difficult times.”
The BBC reports that a British support charity called Grief Encounter received “countless calls” from parents whose bereaved children were upset by the ad.
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Grief Encounter’s founder and president Shelly Gilbert said: “[T]rying 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 recognizes ‘the big moments in life’.”
Many took to Twitter to share their outrage.
The company further said in a Tweet that it is reviewing customer feedback.