Super Bowl: Uber Eats advert criticised for peanut allergy joke

Super Bowl: Uber Eats advert criticised for peanut allergy joke
Man with Uber Eats bag on his bike.Getty Images

Uber Eats is facing a backlash after its Super Bowl advert appeared to make light of a man having an allergic reaction to peanut butter.

The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) charity said it was “surprised and disappointed” to see the company use allergies as a joke.

One person, himself allergic to peanuts, called the ad “disgusting, tone-deaf and completely unnecessary”.

The BBC has approached Uber Eats for a comment.

“Don’t Forget Uber Eats” was launched as the company’s Super Bowl advert with millions of Americans expected to view it 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 advert is about people forgetting things.

One scene shows the Beckhams in their kitchen, with David saying to former Spice Girl Victoria, “Remember when you used to be a Pepper Lady?” She responds, “Wasn’t it the Cinnamon Sisters?”

But the controversy comes when it features a man – appearing to have an allergic reaction with hives on his face and a swollen eye – asking, “There’s peanuts in peanut butter?” as he looks at the label of the jar.

He is shown later saying, “Oh, it’s the primary ingredient.”

Food Allergy Canada said that food allergy was “no laughing matter” and asked the company to edit the ad.

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Dr Sung Poblete, head of the charity FARE, said she found adverts that use food allergies as humour concerning as it could encourage bullying among children.

“These types of commercials and types of jokes allow kids to think that there’s not going to be any harm and it’s going to be funny,” she said.

She said she wanted to educate Uber Eats on what it is like to live with a food allergy to help raise awareness.

Anaphylaxis is defined by the NHS as a life-threatening allergic reaction that happens very quickly. It can be caused by food, medicine or insect stings.

The ad appears to try to cover its humour by stating in a small font at the bottom of the screen: “Please please do not forget there are peanuts in peanut butter.”

But JD Arland in Indiana, who is allergic to peanuts and soy, said: “The text at the bottom makes it even worse.”

He took to social media to vent his frustration, saying: “Disgusting, tone-deaf, and completely unnecessary use of an allergic reaction in an ad.

“I have been ruthlessly bullied throughout my life by this stereotypical depiction of anaphylaxis. Perpetuating this offensive joke is unacceptable Uber Eats.”

Despite his anger, Mr Arland told the BBC he saw an opportunity for education.

“As somebody [with food allergies]… ordering delivery is really hard, because you have to not only know the restaurant, but how it’s being prepared, and you have to rely on the the driver, or the app or the system to relay your special instructions to the restaurant.

“So I’d love to see more of a commitment from Uber Eats to the food allergy community on their platform.”

Super Bowl adverts have become an important part of the NFL competition with some viewers only watching the game to see the ads.

It is expected that more than 100 million people will watch the game on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas.


By David Ryckman