NEW YORK, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Over 18,000 people signed a petition asking NBC to remove an ad for its NASCAR programming originally run during Super Bowl XLIX in which Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman says, "When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there's trouble afoot."
The ad triggered immediate backlash for including gluten-free dietary restrictions forced by celiac disease on a list of generational frustrations such as emojis and social networking.
"They pulled the GoDaddy spot for puppies," the petition's author, known only as "Gluten Dude" told Ad Week.
"We're talking about human beings here."
In the petition, Gluten Dude laments NBC's campaign "implies that we're soft," "weak" and "part of America's problem," further stigmatizing those with celiac disease.
"Celiac can be a true pain ... I think about all of the gluten-free children getting bullied for being 'different,' when all they want to do is feel better and fit in. I think about all of the people who have gotten sick at restaurants because the kitchen and/or the staff do not take us seriously. I think about all of those walking around undiagnosed and suffering because they only listen to what is in the media. I think about all of the people in the past who have died prematurely when going gluten-free MAY have been their saving grace."
NBC did not air the offending line during Sunday's spot, but has kept in the online version of the ad.
"NBC is running a Super Bowl ad that makes fun of those who are gluten-free," asserts the online petition.
"The intent of our creative [team] was to highlight NASCAR's return to NBC Sports in 2015 and celebrate the sport's fun and passionate following," NBC Sports said.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but we understand that it is hard to please everyone and apologize to anyone who took offense."