Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A national press ad and a website for Parsley Box, a deliverer of ready meals:
a. The national press ad, seen on 2 July 2019, showed a large photograph of a cottage pie in a dish on a plate with some vegetables beside it. Smaller photographs showed lasagne with salad, chilli con carne with rice, coq au vin with potatoes and vegetables and lamb hotpot with vegetables. Text stated “Parsley Box is the great new way to enjoy wholesome tasty meals at home. No chopping, no boiling, no running out of ingredients …”.
b. The website www.parsleybox.com, seen on 10 August 2019, showed photographs of meals alongside text which stated “Great food to your door in just 1 day!”.
1. Two complainants, who believed the meals did not come with rice or potatoes, challenged whether ad (a) gave a misleading impression of the meals consumers would receive.
2. The third complainant, who ordered on a Saturday and was told delivery would be Tuesday or Wednesday, challenged whether the claim “Great food to your door in just 1 day” in ad (b) was misleading.
1. Parsley Box Ltd believed the ad stated “serving suggestion” clearly. They said it was standard practice to show serving suggestions with garnish in photography and packaging of ready meals. They supplied examples from another delivery company and from a supermarket.
2. Parsley Box said their meals were delivered by a courier using a 24-hour service and that they consistently delivered within that time frame. They maintained that their ad stated “next working day” clearly.
The ASA considered consumers’ expectation of what they would receive were likely to vary according to the type of meal and whether the photographs suggested that items were simply a garnish or part of the meal. For example, the main photograph showed a cottage pie comprising meat, vegetables and a mashed potato topping in an individual dish with a small garnish of vegetables beside it, followed by text which stated “Serving suggestion”. We considered consumers were unlikely to expect a small garnish to come with what many would see as a complete meal. However, the photograph of Chilli Con Carne showed the meal surrounded by rice, and the photograph of Coq au Vin showed a plate with approximately two-thirds of the area taken up with mashed potato and vegetables. We considered the rice and mashed potato and vegetables appeared to be part of the respective meals and that the photographs gave consumers the impression that they could expect them to be included in the meals they received. We therefore concluded that ad (a) gave a misleading impression of the meals consumers would receive.
On that point ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The ad stated “Great food to your door in just 1 day” in large text alongside photographs of two meals. Further down the page, underneath a heading which stated “How it works (it’s all so simple)”, a box showed an illustration of a delivery van above text which stated “Free next day delivery – On all orders over £19.00*”. The asterisk did not link to text anywhere on the page.
We considered many consumers, who might be familiar with courier services and supermarkets which delivered at weekends, would not realise that the prominent messages “in just 1 day” and “next day delivery” referred to working days only. We acknowledged that a “Delivery” link at the bottom of the page went to a separate page where text stated “We offer FREE next working day delivery* on orders of £19.00 or more”. However, given the prominence of the “in just 1 day” and “next day delivery” claims, we considered it was not sufficient for consumers to need to find the explanation that the claim referred to working days only on a separate page which was not clearly sign posted from the claim. We considered the claim itself needed to explain, or be immediately qualified to explain, that it referred to working days. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.
On that point ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 (Qualification).
The ads must not appear again in the forms complained of. We told Parsley Box Ltd to ensure that any claims or photographs did not mislead consumers over what they could expect the meals to include, such as accompanying rice, potatoes or vegetables, and to ensure that any next day delivery claims explained, or were immediately qualified to explain, that they referred to working days.