A television advert created by the Dairy Farmers of Canada has been lambasted by the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario for its “demeaning and stigmatising” characterisation of schizophrenia.

The advert, part of the Dairy Farmer’s “Say Cheese” campaign, is filmed in a cab with a hidden camera. A member of the public calls the driver, who is an actor, a “schizo” and SSC director Janice Wiggins maintains that such language would not have been aired if it had have been racially motivated or referring to any other illness or disability.

“It’s appalling and offensive to people whose family members suffer from schizophrenia,” she told the National Post.

Wiggins has demanded that the advert be pulled from air and that Dairy Farmers issue a public apology.

Marie-Claude Etchier, spokeswoman for the Dairy Farmers, revealed that a decision has not been made about whether to ditch the ad. She explained to the National Post: “Basically, we received two or three complaints on a national level, and we’re taking the situation seriously.”

She added however that the language was real because the passenger’s response was not planned: “There was no script and no intent on our part to offend anyone.

“You have to view the ad in the spirit in which it was created – real Canadians expressing their honest reactions.”