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Opinion: Content restrictions going too far for too few?

by Matt Vowles Matt Vowles


  • Posted on Thursday 12th September, 2019

The last thing the Marketing team at Deliveroo will have expected when they launched their new TV advert back in March is that six months down the line it would be banned for misleading consumers.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 22 complaints in half a year from people who were already aware that Deliveroo did not deliver to their postcodes in the first place.

If you haven’t seen the now banned advert, it includes scenes of people receiving take-aways in space, in a field after tunneling out of prison and during a high-speed car chase. A voice over announces: “Order what you want; where you want; when you want it” and is partnered with text at the bottom of the screen which reads: “Some restrictions apply, obviously…”

Sign of the times? Deliveroo advert banned for ‘misleading’ consumers

The ASA gave their explanation for the ban that, without additional explanation, viewers were likely to take this claim literally and is therefore misleading. I’d quite like to know what additional explanation is required. Perhaps some massive bold text popping on the screen saying: “UNFORTUNATELY WE CAN’T ACTUALLY DELIVER TO SPACE OR IF YOU’RE IN JAIL OR IN A HIGH-SPEED CAR CHASE…OH AND THESE POSTCODES IN THE UK [LIST THEM ALL]”

While we don’t have access to the exact viewing figures for the TV advert over the six months, I’d wager that 22 complaints will have been a rather miniscule percentage of people that actually ‘took this claim literally’ and found it misleading.

It begs the question; are content restrictions on adverts going too far for too few? We all know that people get offended much more easily these days and the term ‘snowflake generation’ is thrown around for fun but when adverts like this are having to be banned because a few people can’t see past the exaggerated scenes, it does baffle me as a marketeer and a normal member of the human race.

When did the voice of reason get overturned by 22 greedy %#!$@ who can’t get a pizza delivered to them? It takes 30 seconds to check online or through the app to see if you can get Deliveroo in your area and, if you can’t, there are hundreds of other take-away options out there.

Everyone in the industry will agree that it’s becoming more and more challenging to create content, not just for TV but digital and social also, that can engage consumers whilst not offending or confusing them. In fact, it’s nearly impossible with the number of rules, regulations and restrictions in place.

Where should we draw the line with content then? Brands such as Poundland and Paddy Power have always been controversial and even found success through their no-nonsense attitude to offending or misleading a few people along the way as part of their content campaigns. Either way, it will be interesting to see how Deliveroo respond to this in their next line of adverts…