It’s been a roller-coaster month in Toronto for the popular ridesharing company Uber: while traditional Toronto taxi companies turned Bay Street into a parking lot to protest the Silicon Valley company’s presence, Uber announced it would be delivering lunch—and puppies.
The way to almost anyone’s heart.
The city is currently embroiled in a legal battle against Uber, as they’ve filed for a court injunction to stop Uber’s operations in the city. Taxi companies argue that Uber is operating as an illegal taxi service because their drivers don’t have the same licenses required to operate a taxi in the city, and it’s likely that many Uber drivers don’t have the proper insurance either.
While it’s uncertain who will come out of the courtroom unscathed, Uber is the undisputed champion in the ring of public perception, as the cab companies chose to deliver gridlock rather than food and furry friends.
Various Toronto cab drivers put aside their differences on the afternoon of May 14 to swarm Bay Street between Queen St. and Dundas St., blaring their horns in protest of Uber operating an alleged “illegal” taxi service in the city.
Meanwhile, Uber offered customers the chance to play with puppies for 15 minutes on April 30. For a $30 fee, customers could use the app to request puppies be delivered to an office in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, or Edmonton. Uber donated all proceeds to dog rescue shelters in the various provinces.
More recently, on May 14, Uber announced the launch of its “UberEats” service, which allows users of the app to request meals from certain restaurants between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.
It’s a smart move by Uber to fill a gap in the demand for the service during midday hours.
More importantly though, both of these services seem like part of an even smarter public relations strategy: during a time when the media has been focusing like a laser beam on Uber’s battle with the city, Uber is filling their headlines with cute animals and convenient lunch services while the cab companies do their best to disrupt Torontonians.
Uber has even promised to deliver ice cream to Toronto Uber users on a hot summer day sometime in the future.
While we can only wait and see what the court decides at the beginning of June, one thing is clear: Uber is winning the public relations war, and the cab companies are losing.
Ask anyone what they think of Toronto cabs, and you’ll likely get some responses like “long wait times” or “rude drivers.”
Ask someone what they think about Uber? “Puppies and lunch” might show up in their answer.