Uber Lampoons Mayor De Blasio
The war between Uber and NYC is, once again, firing hot.In an interesting twist of public
relations, Uber is now offering riders in NYC an option that presents their version of the future if
Mayor De Blasio gets his way. Messages including “No cars, see why” (directly blaming De
Blasio) can pop up on users’ screens. This threatens a world in which Uber loses its ongoing
battle against the city and the entrenched taxi industry.
In concert with traditional television advertising blasting De Blasio, the messages are an
innovative way to use PR to create a public outcry in support of their service. Of course, it could
The subject of Uber’s ire is the bill that could limit the company from expanding the number of
cars it offers in NYC. Forced limits would also limit Uber’s ability to compete against traditional
taxi services. While New York is far from the only place in which Uber finds itself in a pitched
battle for survival, the city is a harbinger of what is to come for the company across the globe.
If they can win in NYC, the company has a firmer argument to use in its battles across the US
and even abroad. If they lose, the outlook is comparatively dark.
Knowing they can’t compete directly for political influence, Uber has turned to a populist
support strategy. By appealing directly to their customer base, Uber can bring them directly into
the fight. If customers feel like the fight is actually between their government and their personal
ability to get an inexpensive ride, they are much more likely to take sides with increased
intensity and volume.
It’s a strategy that has already seen some success with other tech-based travel services. AirBnB
won a similar battle in San Francisco using the same technique. Customers showed their support
directly, scaring politicians into supporting the company against the entrenched business
If Uber has any hope of similar success, they must be successful in this campaign.
Jokes and dystopian threats won’t be enough, though. They need to connect with customers
beyond the level of an SNL sketch.