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McDonald's Denise ad



The OPC complained that the ad breached the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children (QSRI) as it was an advertising and marketing communication directed primarily to children and the prominent foods advertised do not represent healthier dietary choices. The OPC also argued that the ad does not encourage good dietary habits or physical activity.

The advertisement focuses on a young girl making up for her bad behaviour by removing arrows from photos of her brothers, washing pink dye out of the family dog’s fur, painting over the slogan ‘Brothers are…’ on the cubby house and retrieving car keys from a fish tank in order to earn a family meal at McDonald’s.

The OPC argued the themes of mischief and playfulness would appeal directly to children. The outcome of the advertisement – a child getting exactly what they planned for and wanted – would also appeal to children.


Complaint upheld.

The Advertising Standards Community Panel upheld the OPC’s complaint and found McDonald’s in breach of the QSRI. McDonald’s has removed the ad.

The QSRI states that companies may not advertise their products to children under 14 years in some types of media unless those products represent healthier dietary choices. Under the QSRI an advertisement can be to children because of its content (themes, visual and language) or its placement (more than 35% of the audience of the ad is children).

The Panel agreed with the OPC’s view that the ad did not represent healthier dietary choices, with a burger and chips featuring prominently in the foreground.

The Panel agreed that the ad was directed primarily to children because it had been played in spots where children represented over 35% of the audience.

The Panel did not agree that the content of the ad (its themes, visuals and language) was directed primarily to children.  This was despite the ad featuring a young child, promoting Happy Meals (a children’s product), being depicted from the point of view of the child and showing the child being rewarded for mischievous behaviour. The Panel instead found the ad had general appeal to both adults and children.

Whilst the ad was found to be in breach of the QSRI this was because it was shown in a handful of instances where children were in fact more than 35% of the audience and not because the Panel found the ad itself to be directed primarily to children.

Read the Ad Standards Panel’s decision on McDonald’s Denis ad.