Burger business rapped for offensive ads featuring Madeleine McCann

The Otley Burger Company, in West Yorkshire, has had “offensive” social media advertising posts joking about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. (ASA)

The ASA says it considered the nature of the content, posted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Mother’s Day, to be so serious that it asked these social media platforms to remove the content and suspend the account pending its investigation.

The company’s tweet posted on 27 March 2022, stated “Burgers for dinner?” Below was an image of Madeleine McCann and her mother Kate, with text which stated “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 superimposed image of Madeleine McCann in his hands. Text at the bottom of the post stated “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MUMS OUT THERE.”

The Instagram post featured the same images as the Twitter advert and included text which stated: “Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums.”

The Facebook post was also seen on 27 March 2022 and featured the same images as the adverts on Twitter and Instagram.

Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007.

In a statement, the ASA adds: “We noted the ads were all posted on 27 March 2022 which was Mother’s Day. 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.

“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 the ads were likely to cause unjustified distress and serious and widespread offence.”

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

The business has also said that all these ads had been removed and would not be appearing again. The company said the image used was a “meme” and there was no product placement, so it was not advertising.