Deliver-sued: Deliveroo ad banned for being misleading

September 23, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Deliveroo TV advert for being “likely to mislead”.

What does this mean?

The advert in question, “Food Freedom”, was shown in March and showed people receiving Deliveroo orders from unusual places, including an astronaut in space and a man who has just escaped from prison in a remote field. The voice-over said: “Order what you want; where you want; when you want it”, and the text at the bottom read: “Some restrictions apply, obviously…”.

Following this, there were 22 complaints to the ASA stating that the food delivery app was suggesting it delivered everywhere, when they knew it did not as delivery was unavailable in their area.

Deliveroo and their parent company, Roofoods, said that they felt the on-screen text was enough of a disclaimer and that the scenes were quite clearly exaggerated. They also suggested that users can use the app to check whether their area is covered by Deliveroo free of charge.

ASA instead maintained that consumers were likely to take the voice-over literally. Consequently, the advert cannot appear again in its current form and Roofoods has to ensure that similar claims do not happen again.

What's the big picture effect?

Initially, this might seem to be quite a frivolous ban and a restriction on entertaining advertising. Deliveroo has plenty of competitors, including Just Eat and Uber Eats, so adverts they create need to be able to capture the interest of its audience quickly.

The exaggeration in this advert was clearly designed to attract the attention of potential customers and create a talking point, but not to be a realistic representation of delivery locations. To have it banned after only 22 complaints seems unnecessary. A video of the banned advert is still on YouTube where it has amassed over 12,000 views and has quite positive comments. Whilst removing the advert from the TV, the ASA ban is unlikely to have a large impact, given the number of people who have already seen the ad on TV and streaming sites before the YouTube videos. 

Although, it must be said that advertising standards do have to be maintained. Whilst this ad may have only garnered a few complaints, as the industry regulator, it is important for the ASA to clamp down on ads which have the potential of misleading customers. Further, if such ads are left uncorrected, they may continue to mislead more people and allow that brand, or others, to test the boundaries with what they claim in their advertising. 

Did you see this advert? Do you think it should have been banned? Or, do you think that the ASA reacted too harshly?

Report written by Harina Chandhok

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