Grill'd breaches advertising standards with 'Ronald McDonald flashing' advert


Burger restaurant Grill’d breaches advertising standards with an ‘extremely inappropriate’ advert showing ‘Ronald McDonald flashing children’ in a dark alley


Burger chain Grill’d breached advertising guidelines with its recent campaign that was criticised as ‘extremely inappropriate’.

Ad Standards ruled the campaign, by creative agency The Monkeys, breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics in Section 2.3 and 2.4, which relates to the depiction of violence and sexual content. 

The advert shows a character resembling McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald  appearing to ‘flash’ children in a dark alley by showing them plastic toys under his trench coat, before he is beaten by Grill’d’s burger mascot.

Burger restaurant Grill'd has breached advertising standards with a bizarre advert showing a Ronald McDonald lookalike appearing to 'flash' children in a dark alley by showing them plastic toys under his trench coat

Burger restaurant Grill’d has breached advertising standards with a bizarre advert showing a Ronald McDonald lookalike appearing to ‘flash’ children in a dark alley by showing them plastic toys under his trench coat

Numerous complaints were filed, with one person writing, ‘I know the brand Grill’d and I’m pretty sickened by this style of advertising which is a dig at McDonald’s, but it’s sexually focused at children. Why?’

Another complaint read: ‘Displaying an advertisement that makes fun of a Ronald McDonald-type person in a trench coat creeping up to two children who are alone in an alley is extremely inappropriate for children to view.’

Others complained about the suggestion of ‘violence’ and how it ‘downplays’ the seriousness of ‘flashing, sexual assault and pedophilia’.

Ad Standards ruled the campaign, by creative agency The Monkeys, breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics in Section 2.3 and 2.4, which relates to the depiction of violence and sexual content

Ad Standards ruled the campaign, by creative agency The Monkeys, breached the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) Code of Ethics in Section 2.3 and 2.4, which relates to the depiction of violence and sexual content 

The Ad Standards panel has provided separate statements in relation to the two sections of the AANA Code of Ethics the campaign breached.

In terms of Section 2.3, a majority of the panel found that: ‘The opening scene of the advertisement, where the children were cornered in the alley and the clown opens his trench coat, was menacing and suggestive of sexualised violence.

‘The Panel considered that even though the moment was resolved as being the clown showing the children toys in his coat, the suggestion of sexual violence at the start of the advertisement was extremely inappropriate.’ 

Ad Standards concluded the campaign contained on-screen ‘violence’ which was ‘not justifiable in the context of advertising a burger chain’.  

Numerous complaints were filed against the advert. Many took issue with its suggestion of 'violence' and how it 'downplays' the seriousness of 'flashing, sexual assault and pedophilia'

Numerous complaints were filed against the advert. Many took issue with its suggestion of ‘violence’ and how it ‘downplays’ the seriousness of ‘flashing, sexual assault and pedophilia’

For the more egregious breach in Section 2.4, the panel found the campaign did depict suggested nudity and sexual content.

They explained the Ronald McDonald lookalike clown’s ‘pants fall down so that he is exposed to the children, although the clown’s genitals are hidden by the flag on the top of one child’s burger’.

‘Most members of the community would consider the suggestion of sexualised violence aimed towards children to be inappropriate, even if the situation had been resolved,’ the statement read.

Result: Ad Standards concluded that the campaign contained on-screen 'violence' which was 'not justifiable in the context of advertising a burger chain' and suggested nudity and sexual content

Result: Ad Standards concluded that the campaign contained on-screen ‘violence’ which was ‘not justifiable in the context of advertising a burger chain’ and suggested nudity and sexual content

‘The panel considered that the scenes would shock and upset viewers and did not treat the issue of sexuality with sensitivity to the relevant audience.

‘The panel noted the scene where the clown’s pants fall down and he appears to be exposed to the children and considered this scene further adds to the inappropriate sexual nature of the advertisement.’ 

Grill’d has since responded to the breaches, saying it will amend the advertisement and take into account Ad Standards’ issues and complaints.  

Response: Grill'd have since responded to the breaches saying they will amend the advertisement and take into account Ad Standards' issues and complaints

Response: Grill’d have since responded to the breaches saying they will amend the advertisement and take into account Ad Standards’ issues and complaints

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