Ad Of The Week: Deliveroo 2019

For The Midwives



Food delivery app Deliveroo always seem to have something cooking. Search for their newest ad and Google will return a host of stories about wild stunts and marketing ideas. How about a cashpoint that delivers bacon sandwiches? Or christmas tree decorations in the shape of burgers and kebabs? They’ve even had two TV ads banned this year, because the fantastical or surreal happenings in them were taken by a rather po-faced ASA as implying a broader service than the brand actually offers.

You might call this imaginative, rapid-fire version of marketing the “Burger King Approach”, after the freewheeling, highly creative and award-grabbing approach to PR and promotional marketing pioneered by BK CMO Fernando Machado. Don’t like an ad or a stunt? There’ll be something new along in a minute. It’s a strategy that keeps up a constant press of activity, and the news-hungry industry love it. But for brand-building, it risks feeling scrappy and unfocused.

That’s why it’s so heartening to see Deliveroo’s Christmas ad take a quieter, more emotional approach. “For The Midwives” is an extremely simple idea – a documentary-style interview with one young midwife talking about the stresses and joys of her job, wrapped up in a clever endline (“The second-best Delivery Service”). And the audience loved it.

“For The Midwives” scored a 5.2 on our Star Rating, which shows an ad’s potential for long-term growth. It’s Deliveroo’s highest-scoring TV ad to date and a step up from the activation-based work they’d already been doing. For short-term impact, it has a respectable Spike score of 1.18, which is also the brand’s highest yet.

What makes it so good is its tight focus and lack of frills. It may be a Christmas ad, but there’s no tinsel or santa suits to be seen – the only seasonal element is the way the piano soundtrack gently resolves into a Christmas carol. The emphasis is all on Katy the midwife and her description of how Christmas goes for her and how much she loves her job. We don’t know what audition process the brand went through to find its star but her enthusiasm and sincerity are what shoots “For The Midwives” into the 5-Star bracket. (Well, OK, the shots of newborns won’t hurt it either.)

Katy’s star quality, though, is exactly what makes the ad tricky to learn from. Slice-of-life, interview style ads can work brilliantly if you find the right person with the right story. If you don’t, the tactic can badly misfire. For instance, homeware brand Dunelm’s Christmas ad featuring a family talking about their decorations was flatly received by viewers. And BT’s series of ads last year touting the value of human connection got a series of 1-Star results. It may be true that everybody has a story to tell, but that doesn’t mean we want to see it on an ad.

So well done Deliveroo both for finding a quiet, brand-building centre in their blizzard of marketing ideas, and for executing it with the right person telling the right story.