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Uber Takes a Bite out of The Big Apple

Photo Courtesy of Sally Immel

Posted on September 3, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.

by Tatum Roessler.

Uber has made headlines since its debut, some highlighting the controversy of the company and others focusing on the social good the company did.  Most recently, the company took on New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio in a very public PR campaign urging the residents of the five boroughs to fight for Uber.

On July 15, 2015 Uber launched a campaign against the New York City and de Blasio buying TV spots and running the campaign on its app.  The campaign was in response to the possibility of de Blasio capping the number of drivers Uber would be allowed to have in New York City.  This would put 700 current Uber driver’s jobs at risk as well as limit the growth of drivers per year to 200.  Uber is the only car service in New York City that will pick up customers in any of the city’s five boroughs, where as Yellow Cabs only pick up customers in the borough of Manhattan and often refuse fares to far destinations or do not pick up customers if they are from certain neighborhoods.  Uber will take customers to and from any borough and pick up in any neighborhood.

The campaign video featured drivers who pleaded with viewers to protest against this potential bill.  It highlighted points such as how this was the drivers sole source of income and how Uber changed their life financially, and also how Uber does not discriminate against pick up location or refuse fares based upon destination. It was a moving video and the points made were completely reasonable.  As I lived in New York this summer, I relied on Uber for long cab rides to different parts of the city and other boroughs and imagined the difficulty residents of other boroughs face when trying to get transportation to where they need to go.

New York City never officially responded to Uber’s TV and app campaign, and the majority of residents in the city sided with the company.   As an uniformed and somewhat resident of the city, it was all news to me when the campaign launched, however after viewing the video and doing my own digging on the matter Uber instantly had my support.  Since New York did not launch a counter campaign and the feelings amongst New Yorkers and Uber, it feels that Uber has won the battle for now.  The quick turnaround and strategic launch of the campaign is impressive.  It truly was a textbook example of good advertising, promotion and strategy at the right time.  People who had little knowledge of the debate were quickly up to speed sine the campaign ran repetitively on major TV stations in the city.

Uber’s campaign demonstrates the power public relations has and the importance of building a relationship with your audience.  The company worked tirelessly in New York to build trust and gain business where their customer base has an array of choices for transportation.  Strategic planning and the power of words clearly aided Uber in shutting down de Blasio and the deal that could have severely impacted its service in New York City.

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