Leeds burger company’s ‘distressing’ advert joking about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance is banned for causing offence
- The Otley Burger Company suffered huge backlash over posts on Mother’s Day
- ASA received 3 complaints that they were likely to cause distress and offence
- It has since asked social media platforms to remove them and suspend account
‘Distressing’ adverts for a Leeds burger company which joked about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance have been banned for causing offence.
The Otley Burger Company suffered a huge backlash after running posts on its social media accounts over Mother’s Day.
One read: ‘Burgers for dinner?’ above images of Madeleine and her mother Kate McCann, with further text stating: ‘With burgers this good, you’ll leave your kids at home. What’s the worst that could happen.’
In the background a man was shown running with a smaller image of Madeleine in his hands, followed by the further line: ‘Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there.’
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received three complaints that the ads were likely to cause distress and serious or widespread offence.
The ASA said it considered the nature of the content to be of such a concern that it asked the relevant social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – to remove the content and suspend the account pending its investigation.
A post read: ‘Burgers for dinner?’ above images of Madeleine and her mother Kate McCann, with further text stating: ‘With burgers this good, you’ll leave your kids at home. What’s the worst that could happen’
The Leeds-based takeaway has around 7,000 followers on Instagram.
Responding to the complaints, The Otley Burger Company said all the ads had been removed and would not be appearing again.
Company boss Joe Scholey previously told of how he’d received ‘death threats’ after the ‘joke’ first appeared.
‘I’m not taking the mick out of a missing toddler. I’m basically putting, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to all the mums,’ he told Leeds Live last month.
‘She [Kate McCann] is a mum. Not the world’s greatest mum and not the world’s worst. She’s a mum, there’s one there.’
Meta, which owns Facebook, said they had reviewed the content in the Instagram post and had removed it for violating their policies.
They also undertook a broader review of the Instagram account, removed further content and placed restrictions on the account.
Twitter said the tweet had been deleted.
The ASA noted that ads must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and advertisers must not use a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention.
Company boss Joe Scholey previously told of how he’d received ‘death threats’ after the ‘joke’ first appeared
‘I’m not taking the mick out of a missing toddler. I’m basically putting, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to all the mums,’ he told Leeds Live last month
The ASA said: ‘The disappearance of Madeleine McCann had been a high-profile and long-running media story which remained widely known. We considered the images of them would be instantly recognisable to many people.
‘We further considered 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.’
The watchdog added that the text and the image of a man running away with a superimposed photo of Madeleine ‘further trivialised the circumstances surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance and made light of a distressing news story concerning reports of child abduction and serious crime’.
The Mother’s Day timing of the ad ‘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’.
The ASA said: ‘For those reasons, we concluded that the ads were likely to cause unjustified distress and serious and widespread offence.’
It ruled that the ads must not appear again, adding: ‘We told The Otley Burger Company to ensure they avoided causing serious and widespread offence and distress.’
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