The third-party delivery giants Uber Eats and DoorDash shelled out big money for ads during Sunday night’s Super Bowl LV, but many are crying foul.
1851 Franchise Editor
4:29 PM • 02/09/21
Third-party delivery apps Uber Eats and DoorDash both bet big on expensive advertisements during Sunday nights’ Super Bowl LV, but heavy blowback on social media so far suggests the brands may have fumbled their messaging.
While users love third-party delivery apps that turn their entire local market into a food court, restaurants have heavily pushed back on the big tech companies muscling into their already razor-thin profit margins. It’s become a contentious issue in the foodservice industry, and Sunday’s ads poured fuel on the fire.
Uber Eats placed an ad hyping its “Eat Local” campaign, that encourages people to patronize local restaurants. The brand says it’s earmarked $20 million to “support efforts over the next six months to show up for our partners as they continue rising to the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.” Uber Eats plans to do this with $4.5 million in microgrants for independent restaurants and a $0 delivery fee for independents over Super Bowl weekend.
The Offending Ads
Uber Eats did this with the help of 90s comedy superstars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, who reprised their iconic “Wayne’s World” roles and were joined by music A-lister Cardi B. Myers and Carvey played up the nostalgia factor while Cardi B led the actors into new age TikTok-style dance trends. Overall, it was nothing short of an all-out effort from the massive, national brand to give people what they wanted: Stars goofing off for a nominally good cause.
But industry watchers weren’t buying it. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments and an outspoken business pundit in the media tweeted about the ad:
“Uber Eats just spent $5.5 million plus whatever it cost to get Cardi B, Mike [Myers] and Dana Carvey to tell us to ‘support local restaurants’ while putting local restaurants out of business by charging them 30% delivery fees.”
Price’s tweet was posted to Reddit’s r/Facepalm community, where users post baffling and infuriating content. The post gained 95,000 upvotes by Tuesday afternoon.
Patrick Radden Keefe, a James Beard Award-nominated staff writer for the New Yorker agreed, tweeting the following:
“The idea that Uber Eats, a parasitic app, has just rolled out the new tag phrase ‘Eat Local, Support Local’ gives even my cynicism a run for its money.”
DoorDash’s ad played on a similar theme, with the brand using characters from the beloved “Sesame Street” to push its campaign called “The Neighborhood.” Like Uber Eats, the brand wanted to emphasize that using its app supported neighborhood businesses.
Also like Uber Eats, the ad received a harsh reaction. Perhaps it was the nostalgia factor or seeing childhood favorites like Big Bird pushing a big tech brand, but people really got angry about this one.
AdAge, a popular publication in the marketing space tweeted to its nearly 1 million followers a thoughtful critique of DoorDash’s business practices that could have equally been levied at Uber Eats. The publication tweeted the following:
“While I can’t help but smile watching DoorDash’s #SuperBowl ad, it’s hard to separate the cuteness overload to the reality of the fees delivery services charge restaurants and consumers.”
Are Uber Eats and DoorDash “Parasitic?”
Third-party delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, Seamless and others have long been criticized by the restaurant industry for charging high rates.
Since the start of the pandemic, 110,000 restaurants have closed while apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash have seen their sales numbers boom.
Many restaurant owners have expressed hatred of these apps, but many have said it’s their only lifeline as dining rooms remain closed due to the pandemic. Most often, customers of a restaurant can get cheaper prices and better service if they call the restaurant directly.
Ultimately, it’s unclear if the third-party delivery apps and restaurants will find a happy compromise, but for now, it’s clear that many restaurants would prefer customers “eat local” and support their “neighborhood” simply by calling them directly and skipping the middlemen, who are often multi-billion dollar corporations.