Deliveroo TV ad banned for overstating variety of meals available via single order

Spot that aired in September and October becomes UK's third most-complained-about ad of 2019.

A TV ad for food-delivery business Deliveroo has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleadingly implying that customers are able to order meals from an array of restaurants for the same delivery charge.

The spot has also won the dubious honour of becoming the third most-complained-about ad of the year, with 300 complaints. Typically, ads that feature in the ASA’s annual tally of the worst culprits attract complaints for being offensive rather than misleading.

Deliveroo's work drew fewer complaints than GoCompare.com’s "Tree" (336 complaints), at number one, that shows Gio Compario re-enacting a real-life accident. Members of the public deemed it offensive and distressing, although the ad watchdog ruled otherwise.

In second place of the ASA list, a Cheltenham Fireworks ad (317 complaints), featuring a dog wearing ear defenders, angered and offended consumers because it made light of animal distress around Guy Fawkes Night fireworks. The advertiser withdrew the work and therefore no action was taken.

Deliveroo's ad depicts a woman taking a delivery from a driver. She removes a series of meals from a paper bag, all from a different restaurant, including KFC, Wagamama, Pizza Express, Five Guys and Burger King, and hands them to members of a very populous household. In the end, the woman dives head first into the bag.

Complainants took issue with the fact that the order was from multiple restaurants. They argued that, in reality, a customer would need to make separate orders for each meal, incur several delivery fees and have each delivered by a different driver. The ad was therefore accused of being misleading.

Deliveroo countered that the ad was clearly not set in an ordinary household and nor was it depicting an ordinary delivery. The "magic" bag was a visual reinforcement of the obvious fantasy. The company said it would be willing to add disclaimer text to the ad.

The ASA considered that the claim "All your family favourites, now on Deliveroo" strongly implied that families who "intended to eat together but did not all want to eat the same thing would benefit from the service". It felt the ad implied that customers could order from various restaurants through a single order, with a single delivery charge.

While it acknowledged Deliveroo’s willingness to add on-screen text, it felt the overall impression given by the spot was misleading. The brand was told not to run the ad again in its current form.

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