Mother's Day burger advert using Madeleine McCann banned for causing offence

20 April 2022, 00:25 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 10:45

The adverts were banned for causing offence
The adverts were banned for causing offence. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Burger van adverts that made light of Madeleine McCann's disappearance have been banned for causing offence.

The Otley Burger Company's social media accounts ran an advert on Mother's Day with an image of the child and Kate McCann, her mother.

Text with the image said: "Burgers for dinner? With burgers this good, you'll leave your kids at home. What's the worst that could happen."

A man was shown running in the background with a smaller image of Madeleine in his hands, with a line: "Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there."

Three complaints were submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] over the West Yorkshire-based takeaway's advert.

The ASA said it believed the content was of such a concern that it asked Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take down the content and suspend the account pending an investigation.

The Otley Burger Company, which has about 7,000 followers on Instagram, said the adverts were removed and would not be used again.

Read more: Boris 'orders Tories to block new Partygate probe' as he defies calls to quit

Read more: Self-driving car owners will be allowed to watch TV and films on the go

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said the content had been removed and restrictions were placed on the Instagram account. Twitter said the tweet had been deleted.

The ASA says adverts must not contain material that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

It 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 "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 advert must not appear again, the authority ruled.