Fresh off logo overhaul, Uber breaks biggest campaign in its history

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Uber is putting its image repair campaign in the rearview mirror as it launches the biggest campaign in its history in an attempt to strike a more uplifting tone.

The campaign by 72andSunny Los Angeles is called "Doors Are Always Opening." It will debut on TV Sunday night during NBC's broadcast of the New York Giant-Dallas Cowboys game, as part of a major media investment by the ride-hailing marketer.

One ad shows people taking Ubers to a range of activities, including major life events, like to the hospital to give birth. One scene shows a gay couple taking an Uber to meet one of the partner's parents. Another shot shows an older couple heading to a dance club. It is backed by a message that borders on a motivational speech: "Whatever your ambition, whatever your drive, whatever you are chasing, opportunity is everywhere…All you have to do to find it is get out here."

The approach veers from the more serious and rational tone taken in the previous campaign, called "Moving Forward." Those ads included shots of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi pledging that Uber has a "new culture," and that one of its core values is to "always do the right thing." That campaign, which was created in-house, debuted earlier this year in the wake of negative publicity stemming from allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination that led to the departure of co-founder Travis Kalanick in June 2017.

Paulie Dery, Uber's executive creative director, confirmed the ads starring Khosrowshahi would be coming off the air as the new campaign begins. "Moving Forward" was about "the company we wanted to be and the work we were doing to get there." Uber put Khosrowshahi in the ads because he is "a big proofpoint we are changing. He is a new leader, and he's got a new vision." Other ads plugged new safety features like tools in the app meant to make it easier to verify that a rider is getting in the right car.

The new campaign operates on a purely emotional level.

"What we are really saying is opportunity happens everywhere if you are willing to move," Dery says. "You know what happens when you sit still? Nothing. And I think that is a great Uber story. We've always had a certain amount of hustle and belief that movement creates something better for everybody, and that's really at the center of the idea."

Uber representatives declined to reveal spending figures but described the campaign as the biggest one in the history of the nine-year-old company. The campaign includes digital spending and out-of-home ads planned for major U.S. cities. The Sunday night TV ad alone will cost several thousand dollars. Last year, a 30-second ad on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" ran for $699,602, ranking it as the most expensive slot on TV, according to Ad Age's annual TV pricing chart.

Uber is breaking the new campaign in the wake of a significant visual branding overhaul. The change, announced last week, includes replacing the Uber app logo that appears on smartphones. The old design was just a symbol, showing a square contained inside a circle. It drew backlash for omitting the brand's distinguishable "U."

The new design spells out the word Uber. "We want absolute simplicity and legibility," Dery says. "Uber is a verb. It's a household name. So we wanted to go back to that and use that equity we'd earned with the name."

Below, Uber's logo evolution. The new one is at top. It replaced the symbol at lower right which came after the 'U' logo at lower left.

Uber's new logo at top. It replaced the symbol at lower right which came after the 'U' logo at lower left
Uber's new logo at top. It replaced the symbol at lower right which came after the 'U' logo at lower left Credit: Uber

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