The taxi app is attempting to turn around its toxic image with a quirky documentary narrated by Dawn French. But has anything actually changed for its drivers?
Near the end of April, Uber dropped a “fireside chat” podcast on to its “partner” channel on SoundCloud. It featured representatives of UberENGAGE (the company’s scheme for soliciting feedback from its drivers) doing a little soul-searching about the taxi app’s toxic public image. Back in 2014, the Guardian had been asking if Uber was the “worst company in Silicon Valley”, and that was before the sexual harassment lawsuits, the #DeleteUber campaign, the employment tribunals over its failure to pay the UK’s minimum wage, Transport for London (TfL) refusing to renew its licence and the forced resignation of its chief executive, Travis Kalanick, last June.
On the podcast, Uber London’s marketing strategy boss, Irina Kondrashova, conceded that the company had some “reputational challenges”. But she promised that Uber would come out fighting. “You probably haven’t seen much advertising for Uber in the last six months or so because rebuilding reputation is not just what you say but how you say it,” she said. “Shouting with billboards about how great we are doesn’t feel like the right thing right now. But I have some great news in that [over] the next couple of months we’re going to have some great campaigns coming out.” Uber was ready “to start telling people what we’re about and how we’re doing the right thing and ultimately changing our reputation”.