Uber Plays Up Ties With the NFL in Its First Campaign Under New Chief Brand Officer

17 short spots will air this season

The ride-sharing app will run 17 regional ads for NFL season. Uber
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Coming off a long string of public scandals and a leadership crisis, Uber is hoping a little marketing mojo can help it regain its footing.

Last week, Uber filled former CEO Travis Kalanick’s role with Dara Khosrowshahi—who previously was CEO at Expedia—and in June, the company hired Apple marketing exec Bozoma Saint John as the ride-sharing app’s first chief brand officer.

In the first campaign under Saint John’s leadership, Uber created 17 regional TV spots that will air during this season’s NFL games, starting with tonight’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. According to a spokeswoman, Uber has more than a dozen partnerships with NFL teams and is the official ride-share company for the 17 teams it created ads for. In 2013, Uber started working with the NFL Players Association to provide safe rides for athletes, though Lyft took over that partnership this year.

This year marks the first time Uber has run a brand campaign with NFL teams, and the app has created a spot for each week of the 17-week NFL season. Each 15-second spot will air in one of the playing team’s cities and feature a local driver and fan showing their spirit for their team.

“We’re excited to feature driver super fans in Uber’s first television brand campaign with NFL teams and look forward to being part of fans’ experience on game day and beyond,” Saint John said.

In addition to Apple, Saint John has also held high-profile gigs at Pepsi and agencies including Spike Lee-owned Spike DDB and Arnold Worldwide. Her role at Uber has been viewed as a way of not only turning around Uber’s public profile, but also improving the internal culture that’s taken a hit from the company’s missteps. At Pepsi, Saint John orchestrated the soda giant’s partnerships with the NFL—including Super Bowl performances with Beyonce and Katy Perry—as well as film studios and record labels, so it will be intriguing to see how she steers Uber’s marketing in the coming months.

Check out two of Uber’s 15-second NFL ads below with the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.