Uber // Eating the PR Elephant

When you’re GEICO, you help people save 15% or more on car insurance.

When you’re Uber, you have a PR problem. People think you’re sleazy, have sketchy drivers and simply don’t trust you.

So what do you do to earn back trust?

One of the things you do is to be transparent. So if riders suspect you’re invading their privacy or misusing their data, you pull back the curtain.

The ‘Uber Movement’ is Uber’s way of taking data and helping local markets to improve infrastructure. And emails like the below show:

  • Uber wants to have a relationship with me beyond the car – they email me directly
  • Uber admits they collect data, but show it’s done for good
  • And prove it’s in service of helping you and your local communities, so it’s purposeful

Whether or not this directly impacts me, hearing from them makes it feel like they have less to hide. And that slowly makes me think they’re less sketchy.

So as Uber, when you have a PR problem, you eat the elephant one bit at a time. And transparency is one of those bites.

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Simply figuring it out.

Something interesting happened to me last week. On an otherwise routine commute.

I left the gym and headed towards the subway to go to therapy. Outside the F train were about 60 people, all standing there.

Why is this massive herd of cattle hanging out here? There a walking tour or something

Worse. The train was down. And 60 people were outside, standing in the cold, all doing the same one thing: staring at their phones, desperately trying to book an Uber, Lyft or some other car-sharing transportation savior.

But what I didn’t see were people walking away from the station. Or looking at Google Maps to see where the closest train station was.

Instead, in an unpredictable moment of inconvenience, panic sets in and the gut reaction is to have someone else save us, rather than figure it out on our own.

I knew another way to get to therapy. It was out of the way, but 10min away by foot was another train that’d take me into Manhattan. My gut reaction wasn’t this route though – my gut was to open Uber / Lyft as well because I was in a bind.

Next time you’re in a jam or lost, do you have the ‘old school’ wherewithal to ‘figure it out’ on your own, or do you need someone (a driver, for example) to come rescue you.

There was something very confidence boosting about having ‘figured it out’ on my own. I hope others can do the same.

God I love Lyft.

What a fuckin’ year for Lyft, right?

I mean Uber shat the bed on so many levels – poor guys have had it rough. And Lyft, like Aaron Rodgers-style, was just waiting in the wings to pounce.

I switched over full-time to Lyft a few months ago after all of the Uber London miscues, which just felt like the last straw to make me thing ‘Uber is a mess’. Plus the drivers don’t like it.

So I’ve loved Lyft ever since, especially Lyft Line. Awesome branding all-around, drivers seem happy and I thought the founders’ story on NPR’s How I Built This.

But this latest campaign I just saw pushes me over the edge. Lyft has managed to make it about the DRIVERS, thanking them and strengthening the community so drivers feel appreciated. It’s not about praising the consumers – it’s more familial (and thus special) than that.

And as a customer, that makes me want to love Lyft even more because if they take care of their drivers, I view them better as a company and assume the drivers will be happier and thus better towards me. Especially in light of Uber’s year.

Beautiful insights here about Lyft drivers doing this as a means to something else. The company is championing the drivers’ dreams outside the company – such humility. And the visual direction is totally spot on – such a quick read for consumers.

Even the OOH is beautiful and clean. And that’s not easy to do because, well, it’s OOH.

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Fuck, well done guys. See you in my next Lyft.