McDonald’s is pulling its new television advert from screens following widespread criticism that it exploits child bereavement.

The ‘Dad’ advert, which shows a boy talking with his mother about his late father while sitting in one of the fast food chain’s restaurants, has received criticism on social media, and bereavement charity Grief Encounter said it had received “countless calls” from parents of bereaved children saying it had caused them upset.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said: “We can confirm today that we have taken the decision to withdraw our ‘Dad’ TV advert.

McDonald's logo
(Rui Vieira/PA)

“The advert will be removed from all media, including TV and cinema, completely and permanently this week.

“It was never our intention to cause any upset. We are particularly sorry that the advert may have disappointed those people who are most important to us, our customers.

“Due to the lead-times required by some broadcasters, the last advert will air tomorrow, Wednesday 17 May. We will also review our creative process to ensure this situation never occurs again.”

McDonald’s earlier apologised for “any upset” caused by the ad, which first screened on May 12.

The ad’s conversation between the boy and his mother begins with him wondering what he had in common with his father.

He is then shown sitting in a McDonald’s restaurants with his mother, where she reveals that they shared a love of the same burger, a Filet-o-Fish, with the mother saying: “That was your dad’s favourite too.”

The ad has received criticism on social media, and bereavement charity Grief Encounter said it had received “countless calls” from parents of bereaved children saying it had caused them upset.

McDonald's logo
(Rui Vieira/PA)

The campaign, from London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett, had been scheduled to run for seven weeks.

Dr Shelley Gilbert, founder and president of the charity, said: “McDonald’s have attempted to speak to their audience via an emotionally driven TV campaign. However, what they have done is exploit childhood bereavement as a way to connect with young people and surviving parents alike, unsuccessfully.

“We fully support children and surviving parents remembering loved ones with memory boxes, family experiences which remind them of happier times and openly talking about the member of the family that has died.

“But trying 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 recognises ‘the big moments in life’.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received around 100 complaints regarding the advert as of Monday from viewers objecting it was inappropriate and insensitive to use bereavement and grief to sell fast good, with some referencing the proximity to Father’s Day.