Uber Eats is coming into this year’s Super Bowl on a schwing! and a pair… of beloved TV characters. In what has been one of the most talked-about ads in the week before the big game, the food delivery service is using Wayne and Garth to promote its new “Eat Local” initiative.
Um exsqueeze me, baking powder: Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World? Yup, working with the Los Angeles office of creative agency Special Group, the online food delivery service convinced comedians Mike Myers and Dana Carvey to don the ripped jeans, plaid shirts and Alice Cooper T-shirts of their popular characters for the first time since 2015. And it’s no dream sequence.
First teased during last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, the campaign has been the subject of media attention all week, earning enthusiastic write-ups not only in the marketing and entertainment trades, but mainstream outlets including Rolling Stone, People and CNN.
It’s a reflection of the immense cultural resonance of Super Bowl advertising, as well as the continued cachet of the Wayne’s World characters and enduring popularity of the Scarborough, Ont.-born Myers—who, aside from a small role in the 2018 Queen bio-pic Bohemian Rhapsody, has been largely absent from movie screens in the past decade after franchises like Austin Powers and Shrek made him a box office king during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
This year’s Super Bowl telecast is reflective of these strange times, with mainstays like Coca-Cola and Budweiser opting to remain on the sidelines. That has opened the game up to first-time advertisers like Uber Eats, which is running a 60-second spot in the third quarter of both the U.S. and Canadian telecast to promote “Eat Local.”
Uber’s five-month, $7 million restaurant support program includes a partnership with Restaurants Canada to distribute $1 million in grants for local restaurants across the country, as well as free delivery between Feb. 3-7, and waiving restaurants’ daily payout fees to the service until June 30.
With simsub back for a second year, not to mention what feels like a generally muted response to the game as the pandemic continues to rage, the spot may be among only a handful of legitimately “sexy” ads that viewers north of the border will see during Sunday’s telecast (on the plus side, they’ll definitely know what shows are coming up on Bell Media’s channels in the weeks ahead).
Nostalgia and celebrity—and often a combination of the two—tend to play an outsized role in Super Bowl advertising, and brands have grown fond of resurrecting beloved TV/movie characters and mascots for their spots (usually to great effect).
Uber rival SkipTheDishes, which plans to run a new spot called “Bressert” during the Super Bowl, (see it below) has enjoyed success with a celebrity-driven approach. In a 180-degree turn from the often dour misanthrope he played on Mad Men, Jon Hamm has been playing an exaggerated—although similarly self-obsessed—version of himself in the brand’s advertising since 2018.
So is there something in this category that lends itself to celebrity? “I can’t speak for other brands, but I can say that for Uber Eats, celebrities allow us to tap into very fertile creative territory and unlock a style of humour and voyeurism that resonates with general population audiences,” said Georgie Jeffreys, who heads up marketing for Uber Eats in both the U.S. and Canada.
The creative idea behind the Uber Eats spot is that Wayne’s World was actually a low-budget TV show running on local TV in the Chicago suburb of Aurora. So, why wouldn’t local TV stars feel a kinship towards local restaurants (like, say, Stan Mikita Donuts)? “As local access TV stars, we felt [they] were the perfect duo to champion the message that restaurants are the heart and soul of our communities,” said Jeffreys.
Appearing on the Super Bowl stage provides Uber Eats with a major opportunity to support local restaurants on one of the biggest food days of the year, said Jeffreys. “The truth is, no other brand has the scale, the offering or the real-time experience that Uber Eats does,” she said, adding that the Super Bowl offers an “unmatched opportunity” to garner consumer attention and drive national recognition for the brand.
Shot over three days in Las Vegas after L.A. County officials ordered production shut down because of the pandemic, the spot taps into the current 1990s nostalgia that has made shows like Friends and My So-Called Life popular among younger generations.
The 60-second spot leans heavily on Wayne’s World‘s penchant for in-jokes and asides, complete with references to subliminal messaging, a slow-motion “sexy” shot of Dana Carvey’s Garth character, and an adorable baby. It also speaks to contemporary audiences with a cameo by rapper Cardi B (who previously appeared alongside Steve Carell in Pepsi’s 2019 Super Bowl spot “More than OK“) that results in a TikTok dance.
“There’s something really nice about bridging the different generations and putting them all together in one place,” said William Gelner, Special Group’s L.A.-based partner and chief creative officer. “You’ve got some of the nostalgic elements of the classic Wayne’s World gags, combined with Cardi B and the TikTok dance they do. It’s a really nice way to bring all those generations together.”
The campaign also includes a more than two-and-a-half hour (!) credits ad starring Myers and Carvey (as well as a cameo by the aforementioned Cooper), that lists Uber Eat’s tens of thousands of local restaurant partners in the U.S. and Canada (the Canadian version is not yet live, but the U.S. version is below). As the credits roll, Wayne & Garth—and stand-ins variously played by everything from puppets to puppies—indulge in a variety of activities, from playing chess to painting to paddle-ball.
For Gelner, the shoot provided a front-row seat to the craftsmanship and commitment of Myers and Carvey. Now 57 and 65 respectively, the two were able to effortlessly step into the roles of characters they first played on Saturday Night Live in 1989 (Myers originally created the Wayne Campbell character for bit called “Wayne’s Power Minute” that first aired on the CBC Television show It’s Only Rock & Roll in 1987).
“They didn’t miss a beat,” said Gelner of his time spent watching the two work together on a set that, with its wood-panelled walls, ratty armchair and crocheted afghan-covered couch, was an eerie replica of early 90s-era basements all across North America.
“They turned it on from the moment they got there, and it was just amazing to witness,” said Gelner. “The energy was palpable. [It’s great] when you are lucky enough to work with professionals like that, who are just so good at what they do and such experts at their craft, who care so deeply about every single line, every joke, every set-up, the joke after joke. Working with them was just a masterclass in comedy.”
So does the return of these beloved characters mean we can look for a Wayne’s World 3 sometime in the future? Chya right! And monkeys might fly out of Myers’ butt.