Super Bowl: Uber Eats ad criticized for peanut allergy joke
- By Ashley Swan
- Business reporter
Uber Eats is facing backlash after its Super Bowl ad appeared to highlight a man suffering an allergic reaction to peanut butter.
The charity Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) said it was “surprised and disappointed” to see the company using allergies as a joke.
One person, who has a peanut allergy, described the ad as “disgusting and completely unnecessary”.
The BBC has contacted Uber Eats for comment.
“Don’t Forget Uber Eats” was launched as the company’s Super Bowl ad and is expected to be seen by millions of Americans on Super Bowl Sunday.
It features former Friends co-stars Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, as well as David and Victoria Beckham.
The premise of the ad is about people forgetting things.
One scene shows the Beckhams in their kitchen, with David saying to former Spice Girl Victoria, “Do you remember when I was the pepper lady?” She replies, “Aren’t they the Cinnamon Sisters?”
But controversy comes when a man appears – who appears to be having an allergic reaction with hives on his face and puffy eyes – asking: “There are peanuts in peanut butter?” He looks at the jar’s label.
He was later shown saying, “Oh, it’s the main ingredient.”
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Dr Sung Poblete, chair of the charity FARE, said she had found adverts using food allergies as a form of humor because it could encourage bullying among children.
“These types of commercials and these types of jokes allow kids to believe that there will be no harm, and it will be funny,” she said.
She said she wanted to educate Uber Eats about how to live with a food allergy to help raise awareness.
Anaphylaxis is defined by the NHS as a life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs very quickly. It can be caused by food, medication, or insect stings.
The ad appears to be trying to hide its humor by stating in small print at the bottom of the screen: “Please, please, please don’t forget that there are peanuts in my peanut butter.”
But J.D. Arland of Indiana, who has peanut and soy allergies, said, “The text at the bottom makes it worse.”
He took to social media to vent his frustration, saying: “Disgusting, stigmatizing and completely unnecessary use of an allergic reaction in the ad.
“I have been bullied mercilessly my entire life by this stereotypical portrayal of hypersensitivity. Perpetuating this offensive joke is unacceptable to Uber Eats.”
Despite his anger, Arland, a content director for a sports website, told the BBC he saw an opportunity for education.
“As someone (with food allergies)… ordering delivery is really difficult, because you have to know not only the restaurant, but also how to set it up, and you have to rely on the driver or the app or the system to do it.” Communicate your special instructions to the restaurant.
“So I would like to see more commitment from Uber Eats to the food allergy community on their platform.”
Super Bowl ads have become an important part of the NFL competition with some viewers watching the game just to see the ads.
More than 100 million people are expected to watch the game on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas.