Uber has announced that it will be changing its controversial Super Bowl commercial before it airs during the game after backlash over its portrayal of food allergies.
The Food Allergy Research and Education nonprofit — which released a statement criticizing the ad earlier in the week — shared a follow-up statement from its CEO on Feb. 9, which explained that Uber had reached out to the organization and will edit out the depiction of peanut allergies in the final version of the ad.
“This is an amazing outcome,” CEO Sung Poblete said in the statement. “FARE would like to thank Uber for listening to our community and making the changes to their Super Bowl ad. After talking with them today, I believe we have a new ally in helping us navigate our journey with our disease.”
On Feb. 6, TODAY exclusively revealed the food delivery service’s new ad that features “Friends” co-stars Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, as well as David and Victoria Beckham, Jelly Roll and Usher. The premise is a running joke about their forgetfulness as Uber Eats reminds viewers that its services go beyond food.
During one scene, a man was eating a spoonful of peanut butter out of a jar while reading the label.
“There’s peanuts in peanut butter?” he asked while his face showed signs of an allergic reaction with one eye swelling and his skin breaking out in hives. “Oh, it’s the primary ingredient.”
“It’s not good to make light of forgetting any food ingredients given the severity of life-threatening food allergies that affect millions of children and adults,” Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, tells TODAY.com via email. “Deaths occur due to these ‘forgotten ingredients’ and exposures, most recently … an NYC dancer who died because peanut was not disclosed as an ingredient.”
Uber Eats allergy commercial draws controversy
FARE released a statement on social media Feb. 7 expressing its disappointment in the joke.
“We are incredibly disappointed by Uber Eats use of life-threatening food allergies as humor in its Super Bowl ad. The suffering of 33M+ Americans with this condition is no joke,” the statement reads on Instagram. “Life-threatening food allergy is a disease, not a diet. Tell @ubereats and @nfl that enough is enough. 📣 Awareness is key to driving change!”
In an additional statement, Poblete said: “We ask the entertainment industry and the sports industry to watch FARE’s documentary and learn why this disease is so devastating. Life-threatening food allergy is a disease, not a diet. Enough is enough.”
What has been the reaction from viewers?
People on social media also called out Uber Eats for poking fun, saying that an allergic reaction to food can be dangerous in real life. Some suggested that Uber Eats remove the scene from their ad.
“The peanut allergy joke in the @UberEats Super Bowl commercial needs to be edited out! It does not take peanut allergies seriously. This commercial is making it worse for allergy sufferers, and it is dangerous to make a joke out of a life threatening allergy,” one person tweeted.
“You had a really great commercial til the peanut allergy guy. 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,” another person wrote.
Another added, “Not so funny if you have a child with a peanut allergy. Terribly insensitive to make a joke out of a life threatening allergy.”
“You have a few days. Cut the peanut butter allergy joke right now — kids die from this crap,” a user tweeted, adding, “The rest of the ad is funny. That is just cruel.”
“Food allergies are no joke,” wrote TikTok-famous allergist Dr. Zachary Rubin in the caption of a video about the ad. “Imagery such as this Super Bowl commercial only trivializes food allergies and makes it easier for people to not take it seriously. Pop culture and mainstream media needs to move past these jokes so that people have a better understanding of food allergies.”
A spokesperson for Uber Eats did not immediately respond to TODAY.com’s request for comment.
When will the Uber Eats commercial air?
The first look debuted exclusively on TODAY on Feb. 6 but will also air during the 2024 Super Bowl on Feb. 11.
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