The company’s advert features a boy asking his mother questions about his dead father as he struggles to find things he has in common with him.
Once they arrive at a McDonald’s restaurant and the boy orders Filet-o-Fish burger, his mother says: “That was your dad’s favourite too.”
A McDonald’s spokesperson told The Independent: “We can confirm today that we have taken the decision to withdraw our ‘Dad’ TV advert. 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.
The company said the last advert will air on Wednesday 17 May due to lead-times required by some broadcasters.
“We will also review our creative process to ensure this situation never occurs again,” the spokesperson added.
Shocked viewers complained on Twitter, saying using death to sell burgers was “disgusting” and “offensive”.
“I lost my father when I was a child and I find the latest McDonald's advert disgusting and offensive. Shame on you!,” one man posted on Twitter.
“Not one to be easily offended, but new @McDonalds advert is cynical exploitation of a deeply emotional situation for brand promotion," another Twitter user said.
Another one posted: “I genuinely don't think I've ever seen anything as cynical and exploitative as the new @McDonalds advert. Shameless, even by their standards."
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received complaints about the advert with viewers saying that it is inappropriate and insensitive to use bereavement and grief to sell fast food.
Some complainants have also referenced the proximity to Father’s Day.
A spokesperson person for the ASA told The Independent: “We’re carefully assessing the complaints but no decision has been reached on whether there are grounds to launch an investigation.”
Campaigners also responded with criticism, describing the advert as exploitative.
Grief Encounter, a bereavement charity, told the BBC that it had received "countless calls" from viewers who had been affected by the advert.
"McDonald's have attempted to speak to their audience via an emotionally driven TV campaign," the charity's founder and president Dr Shelley Gilbert said.
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