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

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

The ad starts 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 get all this stuff on Uber Eats,” the woman says. “I gotta remember that.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Aniston responds, tapping her noggin. “In order to remember something, you’ve got to forget something else. Make a little room.” 

It’s the setup for a procession of different characters — some celebrities, some not — who forget something significant just so they can remember how much you can order through Uber Eats.

Then comes a seconds-long scene in which a man reads the ingredients on a peanut butter jar while waving a spoon around, one eye swollen shut and hives breaking out all over his forehead: “There’s peanuts in peanut butter?”

“Oh, it’s the primary ingredient,” he says, nodding, mid-anaphylaxis. The ad was released online, ahead of Sunday’s big game.

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

Food allergy advocates didn’t find it very funny. 

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

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

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

“It appears 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,” Jennifer Gerdts, the executive director of Food Allergy Canada, said of the original version.

“I think that for the food-allergic community, they’re going to look at this and go, ‘Uber Eats doesn’t understand me.'”

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

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

‘Not a smart thing’ 

“When it comes to humour, a brand really needs to identify what’s the sandbox they’re willing to play in, and what is and isn’t funny to them,” said Aleena Mazhar Kuzma, senior vice-president and managing director at Fuse Create, a Toronto-based advertising agency.

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

Kuzma said she thought the commercial was otherwise funny and effective, noting that the brand is trying to move away from its reputation as a…

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