Earlier this year, Uber spent months telling people not to leave their homes. That might seem like a counterintuitive move for a company accustomed to delivering 16 million rides a day, but 2020 is obviously no normal year.
Even as the number of rides plummeted and it was unclear how long global lockdowns would last, Uber had to “do the right thing”, insists vice-president of global marketing, Thomas Ranese.
“I said this before Covid as well, the work we needed to do for the brand was about ‘acts not ads’, because words are cheap,” he states.
“When you’re a company like [Uber] that has said many things in the past that perhaps we haven’t lived up to, or people haven’t trusted, just telling people we’re going to be different and we care about these things might not mean so much. Actually, we need to show people through our behaviours, actions and commitments.”
Ranese, who had only been in the role six months before the onset of Covid-19, saw an opportunity to show consumers Uber is not the brand they thought it was. Through the ‘Move What Matters’ campaign, the business urged users not to travel so rides could be saved for frontline workers, as well as pledging 10 million free rides and food deliveries for healthcare workers, the elderly and people in need worldwide.
The concept of citizen leadership became a clear focus for Ranese and his team during the early days of the pandemic.