Uber Eats’ peanut butter gaffe shows how a Super Bowl ad can go wrong

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Uber Eats will apparently remove a scene from its Super Bowl commercial that depicts a man having an allergic reaction to peanut butter, following backlash from some consumers and food allergy advocates – a delicate situation that experts at the brand, could have been avoided.

The commercial begins with a production assistant handing Jennifer Aniston a bag of fresh flowers, lotions and other goodies in a green Uber Eats bag. “I didn’t know you could find all this on Uber Eats,” the woman said. “I have to remember that.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Aniston responds, patting her noggin. “To remember something, you have to forget something else. Make some room.”

It’s the setting for a procession of different characters – some celebrities, some not – who forget something important just to remember how much you can order through Uber Eats.

Next comes a scene lasting a few seconds in which a man reads the ingredients on a jar of peanut butter while shaking a spoon, one swollen eye closed and hives all over his forehead: “There are peanuts in the butter peanut?”

“Oh, that’s the main ingredient,” he said, nodding in complete anaphylaxis. The announcement was published online, ahead of Sunday’s big match.

WATCH | Uber Eats asks consumers not to forget them in a new ad:

Food allergy advocates didn’t find this very funny.

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) said Friday it was “surprised and disappointed” to see Uber Eats joking about “the potentially fatal food allergy disease.”

The nonprofit group’s CEO, Sung Poblete, later said in a memo that she had spoken with the company and that it was cutting the scene.

Others also wondered why a food delivery company offering allergy-friendly options would joke about an allergic reaction.

“It seems to us that Uber Eats doesn’t understand this consumer base, because if they did, they wouldn’t have (chosen) to add this to their clip,” said Jennifer Gerdts, executive director of Allergies Food Canada, about the company. original version.

“I think the food allergy community is going to look at this and say, ‘Uber Eats doesn’t understand me.'”

Uber Eats did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CBC News.

A man rides his bicycle on a sidewalk, passing several storefronts.  On his back is a large green box that says
An Uber Eats courier drives through kyiv, Ukraine, in 2019. The company is working to expand from food delivery to other items. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“It’s not a smart thing.”

“When it comes to humor, a brand really needs to identify the sandbox they’re willing to play in, and what’s funny and what’s not funny for them,” said Aleena Mazhar Kuzma, senior vice president and director General of Fuse. Create, an advertising agency based in Toronto.

“And I think for Uber Eats, food shouldn’t be funny. It’s what they serve consumers the most, so making a joke out of it is not a smart thing to do.”

Kuzma said she thought the ad was otherwise funny and effective, noting that the brand was trying to move away from its reputation as a food-only service and toward a delivery company that can do it all.

Brands like Bud Light and Pepsi have weathered advertising-related backlash in recent years that has alienated some of their consumer base. Bud Light, which became a flashpoint in the culture wars last year for its campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, is trying to recover from a double-digit drop in sales that followed.

WATCH | How Bud Light mishandled the backlash:

How Bud Light Mishandled Dylan Mulvaney’s Backlash

Bud Light’s hiring of trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked a conservative backlash, but the company’s handling of that backlash led to even more criticism from the LGBT community.

And in 2017, Pepsi infamously released an ad featuring reality TV star and model Kendall Jenner after a tidal wave of criticism and mockery. The ad showed Jenner offering a police officer a can of Pepsi during a protest meant to evoke the Black Lives Matter protests of the decade.

Kuzma pointed out other cases where a brand’s risk-taking could take off. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “is a great example of a really political brand that takes a lot of risks, and what they’re talking about, and they’re OK with the fact that it alienates small communities,” she said. declared.

For example, in 2020, the left-leaning company launched vegan ice cream in honor of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who was previously embroiled in controversy for refusing to stand during the US national anthem.

But for brands like Bud Light and Uber Eats, which aim for mass appeal, “you really have to offer a message that has this kind of universal human vision,” she added.

“You want everyone to always see you as a brand that can serve them and serve them, and when you start to chip away at that — like with this little scene — it chips away at that, where a group of people don’t. “I don’t think you’re for them.

There is long precedent for re-releasing or removing Super Bowl ads after public criticism – or in anticipation of such criticism.

A woman offers a can of Pepsi to one of the many police officers waiting in line.
A Pepsi ad evoking the Black Lives Matter protests of the 2010s was quickly removed amid a tidal wave of criticism and mockery. (Pepsi)

In fact, Uber Eats may not be the only company scrambling to fix an ad ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl. The FanDuel online gaming site is would have reissue of an ad featuring the late actor and footballer Carl Weathers, which died earlier this month.

Other examples include a 2011 spot from vacation rental company HomeAway called “Test Baby,” which featured a rubber baby thrown against the window of a maternity ward. Some viewers felt it glorified violence against toddlers, prompting its CEO to apologize and release a re-edited version of the advert in which the baby is caught.

Or in 2015, when a GoDaddy ad showed a puppy falling out of a truck and running home only to be sold by its owner, prompting backlash from animal rights groups.

A Change.org petition with 42,000 signatures calling for this ad to be removed was the writing on the wall.

The Super Bowl is “a very big stage to take such a big risk when there was no need to take it,” Kuzma said.

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