A TV ad for Deliveroo, seen in September and October 2019, showed a woman taking a delivery from a Deliveroo driver at her front door and then distributing meals from various restaurants around the house from a single bag, into which she dived head first towards the end of the ad before emerging. She called out the name of each restaurant or type of food as she handed over the meals: "Chinese, KFC, Wagamama, Greek salad, Pizza Express, Burger King, Five Guys, Doner, Buon Giorno Italiano, prawn crackers". On-screen text stated "Geographical restrictions apply. Separate orders must be made for each restaurant". The voice-over at the end stated, "All your family favourites, now on Deliveroo". The logos of Burger King, Wagamama, Zizzi, KFC, Five Guys, Pho, Greggs, Yo!, Fridays, Tortilla, Wahaca, Papa John's, Pret and Taco Bell appeared across the screen.
The complainants, who understood each restaurant would need a separate order, each incurring a delivery fee, with each meal then delivered separately, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Roofoods Ltd t/a Deliveroo said the ad promoted the wide variety of meal types and restaurants which were available via the Deliveroo platform. They believed that as the action unfolded it became clear that the ad was not set in an ordinary household and that it was not showing an ordinary Deliveroo order. They highlighted that the “magic bag” produced many more meals than could be contained in an ordinary bag and that the house was filled with a huge number of inhabitants. They felt that was reinforced when the woman was able to dive into the bag and disappear from view. They said the magic bag motif drew on the classic pulling-a-rabbit-from-a-hat magic trick, which further underscored the whimsical and fantastical nature of the scene. Deliveroo pointed out that while the voice-over announced "All your family favourites, now on Deliveroo" and the logos of some of the participating restaurants appeared across the screen, those were not the same restaurants as the female character mentioned when pulling meals from the bag. They said the fantastical ‘magic bag’ was simply a vehicle to convey this message and was not intended to imply that consumers could order from many different restaurants in one go (to be delivered together at the same time), let alone that they could order from as many as 10 or more different restaurants in one go in the way shown in the scene. They said that would be impractical and that viewers would not therefore interpret the ad in that way.
Deliveroo said that while they did not believe the ad was misleading, they would be willing to add disclaimers to the existing text ‒ “Separate orders must be made for each restaurant” ‒ to ensure that their intended meaning was clear to all viewers. They said while there were no references to a combined or separate delivery fee, and there were no implied claims about prices or delivery fees in the ad at all, they would also be willing to provide additional clarity on that point (provided it did not cause confusion for Deliveroo Plus subscribers who paid a monthly subscription and were not charged for individual deliveries).
Clearcast confirmed that the complainants were correct in their understanding that customers needed to make a separate order for each restaurant, which would then be delivered separately, with each incurring a delivery fee. They reiterated Deliveroo’s view that the fantastical nature of the ad ensured the main message was that a wide variety of restaurants were available via the service, and they believed that was how the vast majority of viewers would interpret it. They thought any possible ambiguity was resolved by the on-screen text “Separate orders must be made for each restaurant”. Because the ad did not contain prices, they did not consider it necessary for it to refer to delivery fees.
The ASA noted that Deliveroo customers would need to make a separate order for each restaurant from which they wanted to order, these would then be delivered separately, with each order incurring a delivery fee. We recognised that the ad did not show a typical house or a typical delivery, and that viewers would appreciate the ad was not showing a real-world scenario. Deliveroo had however chosen that scenario in order to demonstrate one of the real-world benefits of their service, namely the wide variety of restaurants from which their customers could order.
We considered that even viewers who were not aware of Deliveroo would understand from the ad that it was a food delivery service, and that another key benefit of the service was that food was delivered to your door. Moreover, while there were clearly more people in the house than a typical family, we considered the domestic setting and the explicit reference to “All your family favourites, now on Deliveroo” strongly implied that families or other groups who intended to eat together but did not all want to eat the same thing would benefit from the service. In that context, we considered that while viewers might appreciate that it was impractical for an order as large and diverse as the one shown in the ad to be delivered in a single delivery, the ad nevertheless implied that Deliveroo customers could order food from different restaurants to be delivered together. The ad made no reference to the cost of delivery and in the absence of any claim that delivery was free we considered viewers would assume that delivery charges were likely to apply.
However, the ad featured a scenario in which food ordered from different restaurants was delivered to the same household at the same time. We considered consumers would not assume that a separate delivery charge applied for each restaurant ordered from. In that context, it was therefore material information that a separate delivery charge would be applied to each order from a different restaurant.
While we acknowledged Deliveroo’s willingness to include additional on-screen text to clarify the nature of their service, we considered such text was unlikely to be sufficient to alter the overall impression that their customers could order food from different restaurants to be delivered together. Because that was not the case, and because the ad did not state that a delivery charge would be applied to each order from a different restaurant, we concluded it was likely to mislead.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising) and 3.10 (Qualifications).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Roofoods Ltd t/a Deliveroo, if showing deliveries of food from multiple restaurants, to take care not to misleadingly imply that multiple meals could be delivered in a single order, and not to misleadingly omit material information about delivery charges.