Have you seen the new Uber advertising? A TV commercial appeared in June called ‘Effortless Night’ and posters followed at bus stops.
Anna Leszkiewicz of the New Statesman was pretty mocking. She has a point, the dating couple in the film do catch a total of six Ubers during a single evening.
They take one just to pick up some street food before immediately moving on in another, which does seem to slightly miss the point of street food. She reckons the date looks not just awkward but exhausting.
Ben Middleton of Creature and David Prideaux of Iris, creative directors of two London agencies, were a bit more forgiving in Campaign’s Private View section.
Ben thinks BBH have done a great job of reducing what Uber does to a simple phrase, ‘anywhere, effortlessly”. His criticism is that the idea of people hopping in one side of a car and out the other feels too familiar.
David thinks the opposite, that the idea is clever. He reckons it was all shot in one take (really?) and describes the film as “elegant” and “beautifully styled”. He describes the scenery as a “stylized urban cityscape”.
But, back to Anna, she described it as “a dystopian hellscape populated only by cardboard bystanders and driverless cars”.
The wonderfully named Richard J. Hillgrove VI can’t resist the headline: “Uber has lost his way”. Writing on The Drum, his take is all about how the advertising avoids the elephant in the room.
It’s true, Uber have had a string of PR disasters recently. Travis Kalanick caught on video having a heated argument with one of Uber’s drivers. A former employee blogging about sexism in the company. Investors attacking the company over bullying and lack of diversity. And über alles, workers’ rights.
Richard describes the film as a “gloss-over”. It may be directed by Kim Gehrig, who did ‘This Girl Can’ for Sport England and ‘Man on the Moon’ for John Lewis. But to him it’s “all pretty packaging and very little substance”.
Along the way, though, he does nail a real truth about people’s relationship with Uber. The company’s values may be dubious but the service works. And as he says: “Ethics evaporate in the harsh headlights of expediency”.
Then Daniel Bonner on Twitter simply says the ad is “a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with advertising in a (thankfully) brief 30 seconds”. Actually, it’s 60 seconds but never mind.
And all people on YouTube want to talk about is the music, ‘You’re The Boss’ by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret. According to Paul Rowthorn, it was recorded for ‘Viva Las Vegas’ but wasn’t used in the film. Now you know.
So what do you reckon?
Ridiculously unrealistic rom-com from advertising fairyland?
Admirably single-minded brief by a ruthlessly reductive planner?
Tired old cliché from an industry all out of ideas?
Cleverly filmed mini-movie with cool new-old music?
Act-like-nothing’s-happened approach to bad PR?
Insight into our flexible morality in the age of quick, easy and cheap?
Or everyone approaching advertising with an open mouth?