Super Bowl week is a chance for brands like Uber Eats to build hype around their products before the big game. Uber Eats’ attempt this year is a Super Bowl Sunday commercial featuring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey from Wayne’s World, a ’90s movie starring two suburban Chicago slackers who take on the music and TV industries.
This unholy alliance between a third-party courier and these beloved characters who debuted as a Saturday Night Live sketch? It’s enough to make me want to hurl.
Restaurants across America are hurting during the pandemic, and many take issue with Uber Eats, Grubhub, and DoorDash — the Big Three when it comes to delivery. Restaurant owners and chefs, the type of folks who Wayne and Garth would support — including Chicago’s very own Phillip Foss (who is from Milwaukee, which Alice Cooper tells us is Algonquin for “the good land”) — have spoken up about their concerns about third parties charging high commission fees and using unethical business practices.
Knowing all this, can you imagine Wayne and Garth using a third-party service to order from Stan Mikita’s Donuts? Game off.
Seeing third parties spend the $5 million or so on a Super Bowl Sunday spot also feels off, as if someone like Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick is partying in public while members of the restaurant industry are doomed to stay in, burdened to cross their Ts and dot the lowercase Js on their grant applications needed to survive the pandemic.
Uber Eats isn’t alone. DoorDash is trotting out Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street characters for its first Big Game ad. Grubhub hasn’t shown its hand yet, but it’s aired commercials in the past. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the brand’s painfully cheerful dancing CGI characters make an appearance. Party on, everybody. Not!
While Wayne and Cardi B are encouraging customers to eat local in teasers — waiving delivery fees for customers for local restaurants through February 7 (there’s no mention if the platform will waive the 15 percent commissions charged to restaurants, one of the reasons Chicago requires companies to provide a breakdown of fees to customers), Sunday’s Wayne’s World spot could be also be for a new venture called @Pizza, backed by the team behind DJ Steve Aoki’s pizza pop-up. This venture brands different pizzerias all over the country with the @Pizza name, while using Uber Eats to sell their pies alongside well-known national chains. The gambit relies on pizzeria owners feeling that they could generate bigger sales by buying better search engine placement. It probably won’t catch on in Chicago, a city with a proud pizza culture where customers are invested in ordering from places by name. But for other places (Delaware), and even in Chicago’s suburbs — where chain pizza dominates — the idea could work. An Instagram post superimposes the @Pizza logo over Pizza Hut’s with a clip taken from the 1992 movie.
For those who need a refresher, the movie — which also led to a derivative sequel — centers around Aurora, Illinois residents Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. While Wayne and Garth weren’t bashful about product placement in the movie — which features hilarious, fourth-wall-breaking nods to Doritos, Pizza Hut, and Pepsi — the pair definitely isn’t all about capitalism. They have an anti-establishment vibe that persists throughout the film. After all, their favorite club is even called Komrades.
In the movies, Wayne is shown to struggle with authority figures, including Noah’s Arcades, the chief sponsor of his TV show. It just doesn’t make sense that he’d want to be associated with Uber founder Kalanick, who has invested heavily in ghost kitchens. Many restaurant owners feel ghost kitchens are a threat, backed by rich investors who are nobody’s friends and eager to drive them out of business.
This isn’t the first questionable Uber Eats “casting” choice for its ads. It’s previously lured Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, to be a pitchman. A pious Jedi probably wouldn’t hawk for a third-party delivery company, but then again, Hamill did play the clown prince of crime as the voice of the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, so who even knows?
When cast on SNL, Myers — a Toronto native — would constantly rep Chicago, wearing the same Chicago Blackhawks sweaters he wore while portraying Wayne. Sure, things change with time, but Wayne was a loyal guy, the type who would totally call a restaurant directly to ensure that Uber Eats and others don’t charge restaurants additional fees. Perhaps he’d even use a cheeky pseudonym to have some fun — and he definitely wouldn’t forget to tip.