Burger firm's offensive Madeleine McCann Mother's Day adverts are banned

Burger firm's offensive Madeleine McCann Mother's Day adverts are banned

A BURGER firm's adverts featuring images of Madeleine McCann have been banned after they were deemed likely to cause 'serious and widespread offence'.

The ads appeared on the social media accounts of the Leeds-based Otley Burger Company on March 27, 2022 — Mother's Day.

They featured images of Madeleine McCann and her mother Kate, as well as a man running with a smaller image of Madeleine in his hands.

Madeleine disappeared on a family holiday to Portugal in May 2007 when she was three years old.

One of the posts included the text 'With burgers this good, you'll leave your kids at home. What’s the worst that could happen' and 'Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there'.

Upholding the three complaints about the ads, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ads must not appear again.

'Shock factor'

In its assessment, the ASA said that "any reference to a missing child was likely to be distressing, and that in the context of an ad promoting a burger company, the distress caused was unjustified".

Addressing the text and the image of a man running away with Madeleine, the ASA said "these elements further trivialised the circumstances surrounding Madeleine's disappearance and made light of a distressing news story".

"We noted that the ads were all posted on March 27, 2022 which was Mother's Day," added the organisation.

"We considered that in combination with the images, the posting of the ads on that date was intended to further add to the shock factor and offensive nature of the ads.

Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann at a press conference in June 2007 (Image: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

"We also considered it was likely to have compounded the distress of those who saw the ads, and particularly for those who may have experienced the disappearance of a child.

"For those reasons we concluded that the ads were likely to cause unjustified distress and serious and widespread offence."

In the version of the ad that appeared on Instagram, the post also included the text, 'This is not an advert'.

However, the ASA said the ads appeared in non-paid-for space online under The Otley Burger Company's control and were directly connected with the supply or transfer of the company's goods and services.

"The ASA therefore considered they were marketing communications within the remit of the CAP Code," said the organisation.

Meme claim

The Otley Burger Company said that they would not use photos of Kate McCann in that manner again or superimpose images of Madeleine McCann being kidnapped.

They said that all the posts had been removed and would not be appearing again.

However, they also said the image was a meme and there was no product placement, so it was not advertising.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, stated that they had reviewed the content in the Instagram post and had removed it for violating their policies.

They undertook a broader review of the Instagram account, removed further content and placed restrictions on the account.

Twitter said the tweet had been deleted.