UBER’s Publicity Antics: A Great Case Study for Earned Public Relations

What started in 2009 as an App used to order Black Car services in a small handful of metropolitan cities has become a logistical golden child around the globe. Today the Uber App represents a flexible income opportunity for drivers, a fun, new, loaded with extras, option for riders, and a tool that claims to strengthens local economies by improving access to transportation and making streets safer.

Uber’s phenomenal growth is largely due to the fact that it is a great product and the business model is stellar, but Uber conversations don’t get far before the marketing antics become the hot topic. 

Uber is innovative, creative, and loves to go the extra mile.  Christmas Tree deliveries, custom rides with local celebrities, motoring Santa Claus around cities collecting toys and gifts for disadvantaged children and families.  The list grows every day and is limited only by the imaginations of the Uber team of executives and partners.  The competition doesn’t stand a chance!

Here are our Top 10 for best Uber marketing antics.


A group of different kitten

A ride service company that does their part to unite families with KITTENS! In October 2013 and 2014 Uber delivered kittens to users in a handful of cities, including Austin, New York, Chicago, DC, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle. Included in the App is an option to select “KITTENS” and have an adoptable kitten delivered to the doorstep for a 15-minute cuddle-date. 

2) Take it to the movies!

When Transformers: Age of Extinction released Uber teamed up with Paramount and Western Star to roll out the premier in Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angele. Uber added to the menu a 15-minute ride in Optimus Prime!   

When The Kingsmen movie released Uber gave away FREE tickets to the riders requesting transport to one of 50 screenings in 50 cities.  Winning riders received tickets, a complimentary ride to the theater, and a Kingsmen Swag Bag.


uber_vday_skywriting_headers_700x300_r9Valentine’s Day 2014 Uber teamed up with heavy hitter MasterCard to offer on-demand skywriting services. On the day, romantics ordered up a max 12-character message to show up in the sky at a designated time and place. As an added bonus for all riders on Valentine’s Day, drivers teamed up with ProFlowers and filled cars with roses as tokens of appreciation for riders worldwide.

4) ShuberX

uber_shuberx_graphics_700x300_r2April Fools Day is not safe from the tech community!  Bloomberg Business reported Uber and TOMS Footwear brought you ShuberX, a cardboard car, designed to reduce carbon footprint. The Tagline: “What better way to activate our riders than to literally, physically activate them?”   

5) Ahoy UBER!

uber_sydney_boats_graphics_700x300_r1This “think out of the car” campaign took the rider literally out of the car and into the waters of Amsterdam,  Isthanbul, and Australia.  Uber drivers parked some of their cars and gave rides in canal boats, luxurious cruising boats, and water taxis.  Got water?

6) Summer Treats

When temperatures rise, Tap the App for Ice Cream delivery to the door in minutes.  they deliver most anything, but few items as cool as this!

7) Cinco de Mayo

In select cities Uber offers monetary credit to riders on Cinco de Mayo.  No big deal?  It is if the rider happens to get one of a few cars loaded with Uber Piñata Pals.  Party time!   Prefer a personal mariachi band?  Schedule a ride the day before Cinco de Mayo that includes the band, Margaritas and piñatas full of surprises! 

8) San Francisco Hipster Thursday

San Fran’ers can schedule a ride to the Mission District on Hipster Thursday and get $5 off.   Any ride that ends in the district, all day, gets this discount.

9) Hand-picked onboard advertising

When Uber rates were cut, drivers were challenged to come up with solutions to recoup lost revenue.  As a business owner the Uber driver, also referred to by Forbes.com as a “Mobile Logistical Entrepreneur,” has the ability to sell or recommend products and services.  They have taken that bull by the horns and turned to methods of selective on board advertising.  Driver hand-pick sponsors and ads and feature them during the ride.

While this may seem less than “antic”, consider the concept of hand-picked!  An Uber driver can run a Bud Light ad just minutes before dropping a customer at a bar.  Very clever marketing indeed. The advertisers are lining up!


Uber adds a whole new level to the business by being authentic.  On the Uberfacts Facebook page  the content offers in your face authenticity.   The posts are random and diverse, and they produce actions.   Readers are liking, sharing and commenting by the thousands.  Marketing antic? Absolutely! Authenticity enables people to relate to the business, encourages engagement and encourages consumers to also become advocates of the business.  One of the best antics in marketing I say.