On March 27, The Otley Burger Company published an advert on social media in which it proposed “burgers for dinner” along with images of Madeleine and her mother, Kate McCann, and the comment: “With burgers this good, you'll leave your kids at home. What's the worst that could happen?”
In the same ad, a man is also seen running with a photograph of Madeleine in his hands, followed by the wish: “Happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reacted to the complaints and asked social media outlets Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to remove the content and suspend the account during an investigation, but some of the footage still remained available this morning.
In a statement, the ASA said that "any reference to a missing child was likely to be distressing and that in the context of an ad promoting a burger company the distress caused was unjustified."
The images, they added, "trivialised the circumstances" around her disappearance and "made light of a distressing news story".
The Mother's Day timing of the posts 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", the watchdog said.
Madeleine McCann disappeared on May 3, 2007, a few days before she turned four, from the room where she slept with her two younger twin brothers, in an apartment in a tourist village, in Praia da Luz, Algarve.