This commentary by the president and chief executive of SMZ Advertising in Troy is adapted with permission from a recent email newsletter. These reflections, he tells Deadline, brought “a fair amount of feedback from people who had experiences with Uber . . . [that show its] loss of specialness.”
By Jamie Michelson
I’m not a power user of Uber like my daughters. Yet I’ve used the service from the early days and can’t help but ponder what it has become.
I often quote ad industry legend Jay Chiat, who said: “How big do we get before we get bad?” I’ve applied that concept to considering Uber, fast-growing restaurant concepts, companies of all sorts and, of course, our own agency.
In the case of Uber, two recent experiences were eye-opening:
♦ Ride #1: A beat-up Camry, all four tires without hubcaps, a cracked front windshield and a pine air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Basically what every big city taxi was like most of my life and not the shiny, clean car I first experienced when using the Uber app.
Oh, and that original car had bottled water in the cup holders and phone charger cords for passengers.
♦ Ride #2: A popped-by-the-driver trunk filled with his stuff. He was coming from his other job. (Don’t bother getting out to help with the luggage.)
Then, on our ride to the airport the driver talked on one of his two phones with the heat at 80 degrees. It was 4:45 a.m. Who was he talking to in our rolling sauna?
Uber has been in the news for boardroom-level drama. But it’s on the front lines with millions of experiences delivered that the company as a brand and business need to examine to determine if bigger really is better.
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