The ad was deemed acceptable by the Independent Television Commission despite attracting the ire of viewers.
In the ad, created by Leo Burnett, a child is getting ready for a trip to the zoo with his father. His mother tells him that she will take him to McDonald's later. When the father collects his son, the boy tells him that his mother is taking him to the zoo that afternoon. The father then agrees that he will take the boy to McDonald's.
The ad generated 103 complaints from the public. Viewers were concerned that the ad made light of the serious issue of family break-ups, and that it encouraged children to lie to get what they wanted.
A spokesman for Macdonald's said: "It was never our intention to offend or upset anyone. We took care to portray sensitively and realistically both the situation and the characters. The ad reflects the changing lifestyles and many different lives of our customers."
In making its ruling, the ITC said it understood the concerns expressed by viewers and that the theme of the ad did not appeal to all. However, it said that the complaints did not indicate that the advertising was upsetting.
Other viewers complained that the ad encouraged unhealthy eating, as the boy was going to eat McDonald's twice in one day. However, the ITC said that it was unlikely that a humorous situation was likely to encourage unhealthy practices.
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