Uber will be running a new campaign to find ride-hail and delivery drivers who have “genuine” stories, and who “value Uber’s flexibility and consistency” as part of a future ad campaign.
All of Us Casting is the agency that casts the campaign. It claims to be a “real people casting firm” and has tried to humanize tech companies using products that have been controversial, like Fitbit and Facebook. According to , a study by the Economic Policy Institute, the “paid opportunity” promises $500 per day and $1500 for the use of the story. This is much more than the monthly net income that ride-hail drivers make in ride-hail driving. All of Us states that it is seeking single parents, military veterans and self-employed entrepreneurs from all over the country.
Although it’s unclear what the commercial will promote, casting supportive workers who value flexibility–a long-standing theme for Uber–suggests that it will attempt to build on California’s passing of Proposition 22. The ballot initiative, which was written and funded by gig companies like Uber, was passed in November. It exempted gig businesses from reclassifying workers as employees.
Uber has already started to prepare for Prop 22 clones in New York and Illinois. It has also established close ties with the Biden administration, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., all to protect the scheme of the gig economy to misclassify app-based workers in independent contractors.
Prop 22’s passing was an advertising victory in itself. Uber helped California bombard California with digital, radio and television ads through its app. Uber contributed $57.3 million to the Yes on Prop 22 campaign. Uber and Lyft also paid $400,000 for “independent research” to support their position. The Prop 22 campaign sent misleading mailers to deceive progressive voters into supporting it.
Despite all this success, the last few years of advertising have been a mixed bag.
Uber just this year removed one of its 2016 “stories”. It featured John Sullivan, a former speed skater who became an activist. He was charged with enthusiastically participating and filming the attack on Capitol Hill. Max Blumenthal, for The Grayzone reported that Sullivan was responsible for instigating and agitating violence during protests. He also filmed the death Ashli Babbitt’s during the Capitol Hill riot.
Uber realized that $120 million of its $150million ad spend was being spent on what amounts to , a huge ad fraud scheme. Uber was alerted by the group Sleeping Giants to ads on far-right website Brietbart. Uber had blocked them. Uber realized that it was being fed false numbers after turning off $10 million, $100 million and $120 million in spends.
These “genuine” stories will continue to be told in 2021. Prop 22 is meant to be a laboratory for all kinds of stories that defy reality. It should be understood that Uber’s business model supports and not exploits workers of color, that Uber provides rides for drivers at a low cost and that Uber helps drivers make ends meet.