UPDATED: This Super Bowl Sunday, don’t forget Uber Eats — but also, as the food-delivery service has learned, don’t forget that trying to make light of a life-threatening allergy is bad PR.
Uber Eats, a division of the ride-sharing company, on Feb. 6 debuted its 60-second 2024 Super Bowl commercial, centered on the running joke of forgetfulness. The spot, which marks Uber Eats’ fourth year in the Super Bowl, features David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston (who forgets she worked with him on “Friends” for 10 years); David and Victoria Beckham (who fail to remember the Spice Girls), as well as Jelly Roll trying to scrub tattoos off his face and Usher blanking on the fact that he just performed the halftime show.
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The ad, from creative ad agency Special Group, also shows regular people making comically absent-minded goofs. But one scene was decidedly unfunny for many: A man eating a spoonful of peanut butter from a jar — who has broken out in hives and whose left eye has swollen shut in an allergic reaction — glances down at the food label and remarks, “There’s peanuts in peanut butter?… Oh, it’s the primary ingredient.”
The ad was slammed by not-for-profit advocacy group Food Allergy Research & Education, which said in a statement: “We’re incredibly disappointed by @UberEats’ use of life-threatening food allergies as humor in its Super Bowl ad. The suffering of 33M+ Americans with this condition is no joke. Life-threatening food allergy is a disease, not a diet. Enough is enough.”
On Friday (Feb. 9), Dr. Sung Poblete, CEO of FARE, said in a statement that she had spoken with Uber and that the company had agreed to remove the offending scene. Uber has “made a change to the ad that will air to the Super Bowl’s wide audience” by “editing out the reference to the peanut allergy,” she said.
Uber declined to comment.
On Sunday morning, Uber Eats posted the updated version of the ad on YouTube that will air during CBS’s Super Bowl telecast; the new ad swaps out the peanut-butter scene with about 2 seconds of a guy who’s forgotten what it means to “have a seat.” The original ad is still on YouTube at an unlisted link.
The original Uber Eats spot does include a disclaimer of sorts: Small-type text underneath the hive-ridden peanut-butter guy says, “Please please please do not forget there are peanuts in peanut butter.”
But that wasn’t enough to mollify critics, who took to social media to express incredulousness and fury. “You had a really great commercial til the peanut allergy guy,” one commenter wrote on X (aka Twitter), in a post that has since been removed. “How about you switch him out with a guy who forgets he’s diabetic and doesn’t take his insulin, or a soldier who has PTSD and forgets his medication?? Nope those wouldn’t be funny either would they? Edit the commercial.”
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