Lyft Ditches Mustache, Launches Biggest Campaign to Date

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Lyft picks up new a new campaign.
Lyft picks up new a new campaign.  Credit: Lyft

In early 2015, Lyft ditched its pink fuzzy mustache on car grilles in favor of a sleeker version on the dashboard. Now the ride-sharing service is shaving its 'stache entirely as it prepares to launch its next major ad campaign.

Lyft is replacing the so-called glowstache dashboard ornament with a new device called Amp, which it is billing as "the rideshare industry's first in-car connected device." The oblong-shaped device will rest on the dashboard, just like the glowstache. But it has been programmed to dynamically change colors enabling riders to better identify their approaching Lyft car.

So, for instance, a person who orders a ride might see the color orange appear on their Lyft smartphone app, which will match the color displayed on the in-car device. The colors are randomly assigned but riders might be able to pick their favorite color in the future, said Jesse McMillin, Lyft's VP-creative director. The device will also display the Lyft name, which will help differentiate the brand from competitors, according to Lyft. "You might not know what a glowstache or mustache was and what it meant," Mr. McMillin said. "Using the Lyft name as part of our brand identification just felt like a natural thing to do," he added.

The Amp device will also display messages on its backside that are aimed at in-car passengers. For instance, riders can be greeted by their first name. While the messaging might get more sophisticated in the future, Lyft does not plan to sell advertising messages on the device, Mr. McMillin said. Amp will debut on Dec. 31 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City. It will be deployed to all of Lyft's 200-plus markets by mid-year 2017, the company stated.

Here is a promotional vdeo touting the device:

The device comes as Lyft begins airing a new campaign, "Ride on the Bright Side," that includes four TV ads, as well as outdoor advertising. The TV spots take a not-so-veiled shot at Lyft's larger competitor, Uber, without mentioning it by name. Lyft executives declined to reveal the media investment behind the ads other than to say that it is the largest campaign in the four-year-old company's history. The agency is Made Movement.

Ads depict a company called "RideCorp," whose befuddled executives are shown seated in a conference room expressing jealousy of Lyft's services. One spot -- which seems aimed at recruiting Lyft drivers -- plugs Lyft's in-app tipping for drivers.

Another ad touts Lyft's rating system and claims that "nine out of 10 Lyft rides get a five-star rating," while another spot plugs safety.

Mr. McMillin said the campaign does not solely target Uber. "It's bigger than that," he said, adding that Lyft was taking on a broader set of competitors in the transportation category that he characterized as "overly corporate," and "impersonal."

"Using the idea of the big generic enemy and really highlighting competition was really what we're thinking about," he said.

The campaign is the second major marketing effort for Lyft by Made Movement, which won the account in late 2015. Earlier this year the agency was behind a campaign called "Riding Is the New Driving" that launched in April. Ads portrayed the hazards and hassles that come with driving in an effort to plug car-sharing.

The new campaign "is different in that rather than talking about the category, we are actually talking about the choice you have within the rideshare space," said Dave Schiff, a partner and chief creative officer at Made Movement.

Lyft operates in more than 200 U.S. cities, up from 65 cities 18 months ago. The company delivers more than 17 million rides a month, which it says represents a year-over-year increase of two-and-a-half times. The privately held company does not disclose its market share. Bloomberg in August reported that Lyft competitor Uber told investors that Uber has between 84% and 87% of the market in the U.S. The article cited a person familiar with the matter.

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