Cause Marketing: How Uber is Getting Out of the Dog House - Manifest Communications
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Cause Marketing: How Uber is Getting Out of the Dog House


11 May Cause Marketing: How Uber is Getting Out of the Dog House

Every once in a while I see something that really makes me wonder, “How on earth did they come up with that?”, which is then quickly followed by “How did they convince their company to go through with it?”.  The “Uber Puppy” program was one such recent example.

If you haven’t heard of this cause marketing program, here it is in a nutshell:  On April 30th – National Adopt-A-Shelter-Pet Day – Uber delivered puppies to workplaces across Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton.  Using the Uber app, you could “get your paws on a puppy” for 15 minutes for a $30 donation to local rescue shelters, and people who fell in love with their puppy, were encouraged to adopt.

Let’s step back for a minute.  Yes, you read right.  Puppies delivered to your office via taxi.  Insert head scratching here.  But my initial reaction was wrong on this one.  Oh, so wrong.

In Ottawa there were 14,000 requests for puppies.  In Toronto, more than 100,000 (!) people tried to order up a puppy.  At one point in the day, hundreds of people took to Twitter to lament that they couldn’t get through because “puppies were busy being snuggled” elsewhere.  The city was mad for puppies.

Why it works:

  • Stands out from the crowd – it’s no longer enough to simply do what everyone else is doing in support of a cause. Unusual, quirky promotions are getting lots of traction these days.
  • Experiences matter – giving money is great, but giving and getting a unique experience in return is so much more fun…especially when it comes in a cute, cuddly package.

What it could do better:

  • Be genuine – we all know that Uber is facing some tough criticism from municipal governments. Gaining a social license to operate is critical for Uber right now so one can’t help but wonder if this is more reputational and issues management?
  • Be strategic – Uber is all over the map with its cause marketing efforts. More and more leading corporate citizens are picking a signature issue to focus their community giving.
  • Careful what you offer – be sure you can deliver on the demand.

What do you think?  We’d welcome your thoughts and comments too.

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