Uber Shines a Light on Its Most-Complimented Drivers in Series of Long-Form Ads

Documentary-style spots profile the characters behind the wheel

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Uber is beginning 2018 by focusing more on celebrating its drivers, beginning with a pair of documentary-style spots—timed to National Compliment Day today—profiling two drivers who’ve gotten some of the most in-app compliments from passengers.

“A compliment can go further than you think,” says onscreen copy at the beginning of the spots, which were made by agency Giant Spoon, before delving into the drivers’ life stories. The theme is “Going Beyond 5 Stars,” a reference to the highest score a passenger can give a driver within the app’s rating system.

First we meet Fred, an 80-year-old driver who spent a lifetime as an entertainment director on cruise ships and at Las Vegas hotels. Fred is quite the conversationalist, and while he’ll stay quiet for passengers who just want to scroll through their phones, “man, if they want to converse, I’m there like a pig!” he says gleefully.

Uber tells Fred’s life story, and then treats him to a big surprise that brings him right back to his Vegas days a half-century ago.

In the second spot, we meet Anna, whose biggest love is music. She plays smooth jazz in her car, which she says helps passengers relax. She’s also a huge fan of The Lion King, the musical—and Uber has a lovely surprise for her, as well, where that’s concerned.

The ads point to a campaign hub, uber.com/beyond5stars, which collects the stories and urges passengers to use the compliments feature in the app.

“Since launching our in-app compliments feature in 2016, riders have given drivers thousands of compliments each and every day for the things they do to make rides special,” says Claire Watts, senior marketing strategist and head of driver relationship at Uber. “National Compliment Day felt like a perfect opportunity to kick off our 2018 commitment to driver recognition by celebrating a few of the most complimented drivers on our platform.”

Uber rival Lyft has been doing comparable messaging lately, rolling out its own docu-style spots in December that profiled drivers in a similar way. Lyft has generally been credited with building a stronger driver community, but Uber is clearly investing in that area now, too.

“We were inspired by these stories, and we wanted to share them with the entire Uber community. This campaign has been in the works for months, and it is a coincidence that the [Lyft] campaign launched recently,” an Uber rep tells Adweek. “This isn’t the first time we shine a light on remarkable drivers who go above and beyond for riders, and it definitely won’t be the last. What makes these videos special is that today is National Compliment Day, and we wanted to bring attention to the wonderful things drivers do every single day through Fred and Anna’s stories.”

The spots will be shared in social and via paid buys. “At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure as many people interact with these amazing stories as possible,” the rep says.

Uber has filmed two more spots in the series, which will roll out soon, and says it’s committed to making drivers a priority in 2018. “This year is about true partnership drivers, rooted in deep respect and appreciation for everything they do to make Uber possible,” says the Uber rep. “We have a lot of things planned, so stay tuned.”

Pierre Parisot, svp of content and creative operations at Giant Spoon, says the agency found its subjects “by focusing on those who received consistent and meaningful compliments, drivers who go the extra mile day in and day out. And we found that they all had diverse backgrounds and reasons for driving, they all shared a passion for making their riders’ days a little bit better.”

In terms of craft, the agency wanted to series to “be authentic but painted with a slightly cinematic brush,” Parisot adds. “Our goal was to highlight the nuanced human moments that make life extraordinary in a way that felt true to drivers and emotional to riders.”

Client: Uber
Agency: Giant Spoon

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.