Uber looks to rebuild brand perception with first UK TV ad

After a political backlash, sexual harassment charges and questions over the future of CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber is turning to TV to improve its reputation.

Uber’s first UK TV advert ‘Where to?’ aired at the weekend followed by a series of out-of-home ads that have gone live today (12 June), as the ride-hailing app seeks to convey a positive message in the face of recent controversies and doubts about CEO Travis Kalanick’s role at the company.

The campaign’s aim is to represent the possibilities available when using the Uber app. The TV ad includes a video of a young couple on their first date and focuses on how they are able to enjoy a night out in their city by “seamlessly” moving from place to place by using Uber.

It was created by BBH and Manning Gottlieb and directed by Kim Gehrig, whose work has included John Lewis’s ‘Man on the Moon’ and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’. The ad includes the track ‘You’re the Boss’ by Elvis Presley.

The campaign took seven months to develop and will run on TV, out-of-home, online, cinema and press for the next six weeks. The out-of-home concept will go live in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh.

“We are really excited to be launching the first chapter of our brand idea. ‘Where to’ represents the endless possibilities when you open up the Uber app and this theme will run through all of the creative work,” says Rachael Pettit, Uber’s UK head of marketing.

“Millions of people rely on Uber to get a reliable ride at the touch of a button and we wanted to bring this simplicity to life through the ad.”

The new campaign follows a string of detrimental events for the transport company, including a social media backlash with the trending hashtag #DeleteUber, following the company’s supposed support of Donald Trump’s administration. Uber faced criticism, too, in regard to whether it had tried to make profit from New York related political protests at JFK International Airport.

Uber also had to hire lawyers to investigate company practices after Susan Fowler, a former engineer at the company, published a blog post about being sexually harassed. She said she had witnessed political games and had received threats from her manager during her time there. In response to the investigation Uber fired more than 20 employees, including some senior executives.

And Uber came under fire following the news that Eric Alexander, the former president of business for Uber Asia Pacific, had obtained the medical records of a rape victim in India who was assaulted during an Uber ride in 2014.

Controversial CEO Travis Kalanick, whose leadership style has been heavily criticised, is reportedly set to take a leave of absence from the company, with many speculating about his future at Uber.

The brand’s ‘reputation’ score on YouGov’s Brand Index research tool has gone down a hefty 6.7 points to -15.9 in the past year, placing it at the bottom of YouGov’s list of transport brands and behind controversial Southern trains and Southwestern trains. The company’s ‘buzz’, which looks at negative or positive news around a brand has also decreased 6.0 points to -12.4 after recent media attention.

However, despite the controversy surrounding the brand, customers do not appear to be shunning the app. ‘Customer satisfaction’ has actually gone up to 7.1 on BrandIndex and its ‘value’ score is 2.2, making it sixth out of 32 transport brands and suggesting customers are happy to pay the brand’s fee despite the controversy surrounding it.

Uber will hope to continue to increase its positive brand image with changes to its managerial structure. Bozoma Saint John is heading to Uber from Apple to take on the role of chief brand officer, having headed up consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes.

Hide Comments3 Show Comments
  • Jim Norris 13 Jun 2017 at 8:11 am

    Heaven help us. Better to have shown a single woman feeling safe in an Uber. But, there again, it would have been reported to the ASA……….

  • Stephanie Brown 15 Jun 2017 at 8:12 am

    Sorry, but all the ads in the world can’t save Uber against its safety issues in certain markets. Lipstick on a gorilla.

  • Jim Norris 18 Jun 2017 at 12:26 pm

    You can polish a turd but it is still a turd.

  • Post a comment

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here