Rafael Nadal in an Australian Open ad for UberEats.
Rafael Nadal in an Australian Open ad for UberEats.

UberEats ‘annoying’ tennis ads OK

UberEats' "tonight, I'll be eating" Australian Open ads were designed to induce "a very temporary confusion" in TV viewers by appearing to be part of the real tennis broadcast but did not breach any rules.

The advertising watchdog has dismissed a complaint about the "very annoying" campaign, which featured players including Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Daria Gavrilova and Caroline Wozniacki.

Each ad began with a shot of a tennis arena and showed the player either mid-match, on the bench or talking with the umpire before turning to the camera to deliver their line beginning, "Tonight, I'll be eating …"

Complaints to Ad Standards related to section 2.7 of the industry code, which requires advertising to be "clearly distinguishable".

"Same tennis stars in the same clothing as during the game in the same venue as the game," one complaint said. "When it turned out to be an advertisement that was very annoying, each time."

In its response, the company said the "intention was to capture everyone's attention with an unexpected advertising moment", and the inclusion of UberEats branding made it "clear to the audience that the film is an advertisement".

"The intention of the 'Tonight I'll be Eating' campaign has always been to entertain and excite our audience," it said. "We worked closely with stakeholders and our media agency partner to ensure the placement of these ads would not interrupt the live broadcast."

The Ad Standards panel found while it "may not be immediately clear within the first few seconds" that it was an ad, the use of "logos, disclaimers and wording after this time" made it clear to most viewers.

The panel said there "was space for parody and satire in advertising", but advertisers "must use caution in employing potentially confusing techniques such as this".

"The panel considered that this advertisement, though designed to attract attention by inducing a very temporary confusion in the viewer, is clearly distinguishable as advertising material," the decision said.

frank.chung@news.com.au