Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
Jake Szymanski on Directing Uber Eats’ Super Bowl Spot
Production Company
Los Angeles, USA
The Caviar director speaks with LBB’s Ben Conway about working with a celebrity cast and an excellent props team who made products that you ‘Uber Don’t Eats’ for the Super Bowl ad

[Photo Credits: R. Stephan Mohammed]

Uber Eats, whilst also being an incredibly popular food delivery service, has garnered a reputation in recent years for their entertaining Super Bowl ads. In 2021, they gained an immense amount of attention from nostalgic millennial viewers with their Wayne’s World reboot, created with The Special Group and SMUGGLER. And this year, they’ve employed a serious celebrity cast and a whole host of imaginative props to showcase that you can order non-food items on the app for you to ‘Uber Don’t Eats’.

Created by Special Group US, the spot involves actress Jennifer Coolidge, comedian Trevor Noah, and more celebrities from this star-studded cast, ‘Uber Eating’ household items that are absolutely not meant for consumption. Caviar director Jake Szymanski directed the ad and was able to pitch some particularly funny items for the stars to eat, saying that it ‘felt great’ to work on a project that brings smiles to people’s faces after a tough few years. And despite working with a props team he trusts and believes ‘knocked it out of the park’ he also explains that there are stringent legal restrictions when you’re showing people eating inedible products on TV to millions of people. Who knew?

Going behind the scenes on how he built up the spot’s comedy and dealt with last-second prop changes, the spot’s director Jake Szymanski spoke with LBB’s Ben Conway to discuss how the Super Bowl ad came about and was brought to life.

LBB> When did you get involved with this campaign? Were you involved in the creative at all? 

Jake> We got involved with the UberEats campaign in late November. The UberEats agency, ‘The Special Group Agency’ had the basic idea already, which I thought was great and thought we could play with a lot. I was involved in the creative to the extent of pitching what food and non-food items I thought would be funny to see them eat and what celebrities we should go after to be in the campaign. And of course, with the story beats, how to best build the comedy of the spot visually and with what types of performance. 

LBB> How does it feel to work on a Super Bowl ad? 

Jake> Certainly, there is an added excitement because you know that you are going to have a larger audience for it and a lot of times, as in the case with this ad, you get to work with some amazing talent and creatives that are pushing the envelope, which is exciting for me.

LBB> How long was the production process in total? Could you take us through that process in a bit more detail? 

Jake> We shot for four days, which worked well because we had a lot of different vignettes and a lot of celebrity talent to try to get through. We were not only creating our Super Bowl ad, but teasers for the ad and some other ads to air around the Super Bowl. It was a pretty packed four days but at the same time, it was nice to be able to have the time to play with the performances and find the best ways to bite things on set. 

LBB> Did Covid restrictions impact the production at all? 

Jake> Covid obviously affects all productions right now and keeping everyone safe and healthy is the top priority. It slows things down but it’s always worth it because if you do things the right and the safe way it means everyone can keep working.

LBB> The film is very light-hearted and funny - how does it feel to work on something uplifting after such a tough few years?

Jake> It felt great! I always love working in comedy and bringing a smile to peoples’  faces and it feels even better to do that nowadays. 

LBB> Considering all the different items that the celebrities ‘can’t eats’ - you must have worked closely with the props department - how was that process? And did the messiness mean there were production difficulties?

Jake> Yes, yes and YES. I love my props department. We had a great team who I’ve worked with before and who really knocked it out of the park on this campaign. There was a lot of testing for what fake foods would and wouldn’t work and how best to make it seem like we were eating things. In a project like this, resets take a little longer but luckily, UberEats gave us the time we needed to do it right. Our only issue creatively was we had to deal with lawyers and standards and practices (who infamously LOVE comedy) for what we could and couldn’t show people eating. We had some even more humorous items that I didn’t think would be a problem but still, unfortunately, got shut down. 

LBB> It seems like everyone on set would have a lot of fun with this project - what was the mood like on set - was there lots of freedom for the cast to improvise and have fun with it?

Jake> We had a little bit of both, freedom and the ability to improvise. I always love to give the actors a lot of freedom. They were certainly able to play around with their performance, with dialogue, and with some of the props and how to take a bite out that was so specific to them. All the actors, especially the celebrities, brought a lot of their own thing to this spot which of course made it a hundred times better. 

LBB> What’s your favourite part of this campaign? 

Jake> Just how fun and silly it is. It’s a campaign that makes noise and gets people talking. That’s always my favourite type of spot. 

LBB> What was the most difficult challenge you faced on this project? And how did you overcome it? 

Jake> The most challenging thing on this project was dealing with the stresses of working safely during the holiday covid spike and all the last-second prop changes because the lawyers would kill things. The way we overcame these challenges was to try and keep it a fun lively set for all our actors to get the best performances.

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