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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Gluten Insensitivity? Party City Stumbles with Offensive Pre-Super Bowl Ad

      Party City commercial calling gluten-free people 'gross,' angers customers.

    Caption: Photo: CC--Mike Mozart

    Celiac.com 01/26/2018 - Party retailer Party City finds itself in hot water over a recent commercial that implies that people who eat gluten free are "gross." The ad, which was part of a pre-Super Bowl effort to tout deals at the discount party store, has offended customers and non-customers alike.

    The commercial depicts the host of a Super Bowl party chatting with a guest. When the guest asks about a sad-looking plate of gluten-free snacks, the host replies: "Those are some gluten-free options."

    The guest asks: "Do we even know people that are like that?"
    To which the host replies: "Tina."
    The the guest delivers the big, supposedly funny punchline: "Oh, gross, yeah."

    Obviously, there's more than just a little bit wrong with this ad, which does not clarify whether "gross" is refers to gluten-free people in general, or just to the unseen Tina.

    "Your new ad mocking people who eat gluten free is inconsiderate and wrong at best," one Twitter user wrote to Party City. "My celiac disease is not your punchline."

    "Your commercial is disgusting. Do you have any idea how hard it is to live with a life threatening food allergy?" another one reads. "I will not be shopping at your store anymore."

    In the face of overwhelmingly negative public feedback, Party City buckled. The company has withdrawn the commercial, and issued the following apology:

    "Party City values its customers above all else, and we take your feedback extremely seriously. We recognize that we made an error in judgment by running the recent Big Game commercial, which was insensitive to people with food allergies. We have removed the commercial from our website and all other channels, and sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused. We'd also like to clarify that Sunny Anderson was not involved in the creation of this commercial in any way, and we apologize for any offense it has caused with her audience and fans. We will also be reviewing our internal vetting process on all advertising content to avoid any future issues. In addition, Party City will be making a donation in support of Celiac Disease research."

    In addition to the statement of apology, Party City has promised to make a donation to the Celiac Foundation.

    Read more at: BusinessInsider.com


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    Thank you! I've been wondering what the outcome of this would be, and if they were pulling the ad or not. I didn't see it, but I can imagine I would not find it funny. I have no idea why the attitude seems to be that is fun or funny to pick on people who eat gluten free. The world just needs to stop it. There is nothing funny about it, just like there is nothing funny about diabetes, peanut allergies, etc. Just stop. And gluten free food is NOT gross. If you think it is, you're doing it wrong.

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    Great article and glad to see people rallied to ensure the offensive ad was shelved. A vacuum cleaner store near where I live had a large sidewalk sign touting the not funny ad WE SELL GLUTEN FREE VACUUM CLEANER BAGS. I stopped in to let them know that such a sign was offensive and insensitive. The store owners apologized but the sign was put out on the sidewalk daily for months after I spoke with them.

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    Guest christopher lanson

    Posted

    celiac.com should suggest that its followers make themselves heard. gluten-free is a very prevalent disposition nowadays. Celiac is not a disease that needs to be ridiculed, harassed or joked about. I will never shop at party city again, furthermore, I will share this story with everyone i encounter. Bigger businesses have been crushed by similar in-sensitivities (no pun intended) Celiacs, spread the word!

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    Just like the quoted response in the article, "MY daughters disease is not their punchline!" My daughter was 9 months old when she was biopsied diagnosed. That was 15 Years ago. She has lived a life of hell at school from kids that find her disease funny and gross. Something is wrong when a 2nd grader wants to be a school drop out and commit suicide! There is absolutely NOTHING funny about that! Adults do not have an excuse...Shame on the "board of people" who were pitched this idea for a commercial and all thought that it was a great (and funny) idea!

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    I am so weary of the derision of both individuals and companies that is leveled at people like me who need to shop for, order, and purchase gluten-free foods. In my case, it was suggested that I only use gluten-free cosmetics as well. Whilst there are some excellent outlets for such foods and other products today, many are more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts, and both the sellers and other customers are often found to be ridiculing the products and making light of those who use them. Whilst there are some individuals (some well-known) who adhere to a gluten-free diet as an unproven way to lose weight or to "eat clean," most people who eschew gluten-containing foods do so out of medical necessity. How we can overcome the negative connotations is unknown...and may be impossible on a large scale, but reputable merchants MUST STOP playing that dangerous game and give the medical reasons for abstaining from gluten their due - and treat ALL their customers with the respect they deserve. Thank you for this article; I had been curious regarding the outcome of this situation with Party City. I appreciate your reporting, as knowledge can indeed be powerful.

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    This is a great article. I am very glad that people with food allergies stand up to this nonsense comments. They don't know how hard it is to live with food allergies. I have to live with this for the rest of my natural life. Making fun of Celiac decease is like making fun of a person with another illness. I will think about it to go to Party City again. I am glad that people stood up for me and for millions out there with this decease. Thank you.

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    While I have not seen the ad, another solution could have been to petition the store to run an ad using tasty gluten free options (yes, an expensive option). Historically, gluten free food has been limited and often tasteless. Now, it is delicious. Let's encourage the positive! The ad shows ignorance. It was certainly not meant to be offensive, although it was. Stop the outrage. Being offended solves nothing. Enlighten others with education and a sense of humor. I have celiac disease which requires a strict diet and good attitude. My others face tougher challenges. Let's stop taking ourselves so seriously...

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    Thank you!! I saw the commercial twice. I was really surprised that Party City would have an offensive commercial like that. Why is it ok to make fun of gluten intolerance or celiac disease? Would they make fun of cancer or diabetes? I am happy people protested this commercial and I will think twice before I shop there again.

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    I suspect the ad was really directed at people who are eating gluten free as a "trend" rather than as a medical necessity, however Party City definitely should have done their homework before creating an ad that included making fun of ANY group of people. I had not seen this ad fortunately as there are no Party City's in my area, but am glad it was removed.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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