Uber is now looking to improve its image by introducing viewers to the new face of the brand: none other than the CEO himself. The popular ride-sharing app has experienced negative press starting with their former CEO’s resignation, following allegations of sexual abuse and gender discrimination last year. More recently, the #deleteuber movement gained traction as a response to allegations stating that Uber profited from a protest against President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from certain countries. Most concerning is a recent report published by Lyft. Uber’s top competitor. Lyft claims that they now have over one-third of the US ride sharing market and that their growth has skyrocketed in the previous year.
In response, Uber has launched a series of two commercials featuring CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. These 60-second and 30-second TV commercials have aired nationwide, promising viewers that they are taking strides to deliver better rides for users and better working conditions for drivers. In one of the commercials, Khosrowshahi states, “Moving forward, it’s time to move in a new direction. And I want you to know just how excited I am to write Uber’s next chapter.” Khosrowshahi does not specifically mention any past scandals or controversies in the commercial, but rather empathizes its commitment to improve Uber’s culture and leadership.
By branding Khosrowshahi as the face of the company, Uber is diverting attention away from its past CEO’s scandals and is instead demonstrating to viewers that its change in leadership will result in a better experience for customers. Additionally, Khosrowshahis’ personal testament in the commercials may lead to favorable attitude changes towards Uber, which can help grow their customer base and increase sales.
In other words, running national TV advertisements, albeit expensive, could garner the positive press that Uber so desperately needs. On the other hand, despite the publics’ demand for Uber to take responsibility and correct its past wrongdoings, Uber risks alienating other groups of consumers, particularly those who are Trump supporters. While it was wise not to mention any controversies in detail, these commercials could prompt viewers to investigate further into Uber’s wrongdoings. It remains to be seen if this new style of corporate-social responsibility advertising will be effective or if it will cause more harm than good.