Lime’s largest U.S. campaign zooms in on the L.A. scooter-rental market
Electric-scooter rental startup Lime is taking a hyperlocal approach for its first U.S.-focused campaign targeting Los Angeles, a city famous for its exceptionally draining—and socially isolating—traffic jams.
On Monday, the brand launched “See You There,” a social, digital, out-of-home (OOH) and experiential campaign that targets key neighborhoods in the City of Angels.
Lime CMO Duke Stump says L.A., despite its 4 million citizens, has an “epidemic of isolationism.” He pins that feeling of loneliness on traffic congestion.
With creative that reads “Everyone is already here,” hand-painted murals depicting some of L.A.’s popular neighborhoods, and a number of local inclusive events, the brand is aiming to get people out of their cars and bring them together on scooters.
“Having lived in L.A., it can definitely feel isolating because you spend the vast majority of time in traffic or congestion,” says Stump, who began his role at Lime in February 2019 after working as the executive vice president of brand and community at Lululemon. “We felt like there was an opportunity to celebrate and honor how mobility and Lime actually can be a positive source of good around connection and mobility.”
Besides Stump’s own experience in L.A., the campaign came about because of an insight that one out of four Lime riders decides to hop on a scooter because of friends. The campaign itself features more individuals than scooters. The brand worked with local L.A. agencies Doubleday and Cartwright on the campaign, which runs until the end of the month. Stump wouldn’t comment on how much the brand is spending on the campaign.
As the campaign is hyperlocal, experiential plays a large part. To reach niche communities within L.A., Lime has partnered with select influencers it calls “Urban Optimists” to host intimate events for their followers. Monica Rae, founder of candle company Lit Soul Candles, is hosting a candle-making pop-up; and last week, Brian Terada, founder of nonprofit Be Free Stories, hosted an event where panelists discussed the importance of community.
Lime also brought on local writers and illustrators to create an online city guide to highlight different neighborhoods of L.A.– Santa Monica and Venice, Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Downtown, Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and Leimert Park. The brand is also passing out the city guide in the form of a zine to popular destinations in those areas.
Until now, Lime, which is available in 120 cities in 30 countries, has mostly concentrated its marketing efforts on the European market where Stump says more than 50 percent of its riders are located. He says key cities there include Paris, Berlin and Warsaw. This past June, Lime launched its first global campaign “Unlock Life,” which conveys the brand’s purpose to help people save time commuting and to open up areas of cities that were previously out of reach. Stump wouldn’t say how many of its current riders are in L.A.
Lime, of course, has a number of competitors such as Bird and Spin that are racing to dominate cities across the U.S. The bike- and scooter-rental market in the U.S. is projected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2019 to $10.1 billion by 2027, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets. At the end of September, Lime announced it had reached 100 million rides.
The next city it hopes to conquer is New York, as soon as regulation is passed. The New York Legislature passed a bill to legalize micro-mobility in June, and it now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo's signature. Lime says it's already working closely with New York City through its e-bike pilot program in the Rockaways and on Staten Island. The company says its e-scooter pilot program in Hoboken, New Jersey, has been one of Lime’s highest performing markets in the world, so it expects New York City to be just as popular.
Lime’s growth might be coming with a hefty price tag, however. The brand might be losing millions of dollars from vehicles that break down too easily. According to a report from The Information, Lime’s operating loss will likely surpass $300 million this year thanks to faulty scooters, taking a large bit out of a gross revenue of $420 million. "This is a massive market with tons of opportunity. We are the largest micro-mobility company in the world by any metric and we have a path to profitability in 2020," says a Lime spokesperson in a statement in response to the report.
Rider and pedestrian safety also continues to be a large issue for electric-scooter brands. People have taken to social to complain about electric scooters blocking their driveways and littering sidewalks, ironically making it more difficult to be mobile. The “busted e-scooter” was a popular Halloween costume this year, the Verge reported. A 2019 Consumer Reports report found that there were more than 1,500 accidents involving e-scooters in 2018.
Lime is working on growing its safety messaging along with its brand marketing. Stump says the brand now shares an Instagram Story about riding on the sidewalk, and its free “first ride” program is growing. Lime just held one in L.A. with the LAPD where people new to Lime can go out and ride along with a group. Since starting its “First Ride” program earlier this year, Lime has hosted 190 events with more than 4,000 riders in cities across the country, including key cities like L.A., San Diego and Chicago.
“What we learned through a safety study is roughly a third of all scooter accidents happen on the first ride,” says Stump. “[First ride] is an opportunity for people who are unfamiliar with scooters to ensure that their first ride is both enjoyable but also safe.”