During the Super Bowl this year, two of the biggest brand rivals, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, opted out of running ads, the first time in two decades both decided not to appear. But competition did heat up in a different category, with food delivery platforms DoorDash and Uber Eats both making their Big Game debut with spots featuring high-profile celebrities.
The glitzy marketing represents a new front in the food delivery war as the brands battle to win—and keep—the attention of at-home eaters, a task that might become more challenging as the pandemic eases and more away-from-home dining options return.
DoorDash made its Super Bowl premiere with the help of Daveed Diggs and the Muppets of "Sesame Street," while Uber Eats turned to "Saturday Night Live" legends Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World” to star in its ad. Meanwhile, Postmates (which Uber Eats bought in December), made its own National Football League play by enlisting Jerry Rice to catch a flying burrito in a campaign running on digital.
The Super Bowl appearances are a culmination of what’s been an outpouring of creative brand building from the category over the last year, largely fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“For a lot of people, online food delivery has gone from being a bit of a novelty or an occasional treat to a core service for daily life during the pandemic,” says DyShaun Muhammad, global head of brand marketing for Uber Eats at Uber Technologies. “This has encouraged brands in our space to go beyond simply educating consumers about the category, to focus more on building salience. Doing so—and breaking through—demands creativity.”