In what may be the most divisive vote Austin has ever seen, Prop 1 was struck down over the weekend as voters chose to not allow Lyft and Uber to write their own rules when it came to their ridesharing operations. The tide quickly turned against the ride-sharing companies as more and more of their tactics became exposed, including spending more than $8 million on their campaign. More than anything, however, people just got tired of the incessant emails, texts, paper mailers, and canvassers showing up at their doors. Their overzealousness seemed to factor heavily into many people’s decisions about how to vote. Instead of being so heavy-handed in their attempts, maybe the two companies should’ve tried a more Austin-centric approach and made voters fall in love with them instead of alienating them. Here are just a few ideas of how they could have campaigned:
Two Words: Taco. Taxi.
Austinites will never turn down free tacos, making them part of their service would definitely have gone a long way in pleasing the masses. They could’ve had Pueblo Viejo make a ton of tacos, drivers pick them up and keep them in a cooler, and riders receive a free taco at the end of the ride. A tortilla full of goodness and a smile. What better way to arrive at a destination?
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Side note: UberEats will continue to operate in Austin, as those deliver without the need for fingerprinting, according to Fortune. We’ll see how long that lasts, though, as Favor is a homegrown company that has yet to upset its customers (other than making us look at those awful bow tie shirts).
Why No Celebrity Drivers? (Or Did We Miss Something?)
Lyft actually hired Danica Patrick to go undercover in Charlotte so they could make cute promo videos. Why can’t they get Elijah Wood to give me a ride to the Highball? Or Willie Nelson to take me over to The Liberty. Oh wait, probably don’t want Willie driving anywhere…
They obviously threw some money at getting celebrities involved as Taylor Kitsch recently spent the day at UT promoting Prop 1 and taking photos with his swooning fans.
#Repost @madlinbmek Taylor Kitsch meeting with students at @UTAustin, part of @ridesharingatx campaign for #Prop1 https://t.co/2PKKTmc1h1 #twitter #taylorkitsch #taylorkitschworld #austintx #university #texasforever #TimRiggins #fridaynightlights #cleareyesfullheartscantlose #marizzalexandre #katekitsch #jesskitsch #bilasitikiko
They Couldda Specialized In Austin Art Car Rides
Austin loves its weirdo art cars, and who wouldn’t smile seeing a giant explosion of colors and tchotchkes coming towards them? OK, maybe it might be a little scary, but it would certainly be a memorable ride.
Who Wouldn’t Like Playing A Local Version Of Cash Cab?
Judging by the turnout at Geeks Who Drink’s nearly nightly trivia sessions around town, Austin loves to answer random pop culture questions. Just turn a couple of larger vehicles into rolling game shows, and you’re good to go. The chance of winning a couple hundred bucks will always put people in a good mood.
Weird-But-Awesome SXSW Style Parties, Maybe?
SXSW was probably not the best time for them to be launching a local campaign, but they could certainly learn a thing or two from other corporations who attempt to buy our love. Even better, they could have sponsored one of those ridiculous fake concerts and brought Metallica to the Sonic on Oltorf or Sugar Ray to Thundercloud Subs. It would’ve blown everyone’s minds so hard that everyone with a sense of humor would’ve voted for Prop 1 to pass. Well, as long as there was free booze and food.
Prove Their Point About Drunk Driving With A Free City-Wide Bar Crawl
Yes, we all know that one of the biggest benefits of ridesharing is keeping people from drinking and driving, so they should’ve just doubled down on that aspect. Checking out all of the great bar’s that Austin has to offer away from downtown can get a little expensive, but if Uber and Lyft had organized a constant flow of drivers and partnered with bars from Rock Rose’s new options all the way down to Moontower Saloon, they could’ve created some great nights to remember. Or forget.
Real Shocker, Here: Maybe Try Paying a Living Wage?
Novel idea, yes. Actually making sure drivers earn a living wage and receive some sort of benefits, thus proving corporate responsibility probably would’ve gone a pretty long way. Easier said than done, sure, but hopefully the next companies to offer this service keep this in mind from the jump.
And If All Else Fails, Hire Texas Roller Derby’s Ladies As Security
Riders not feeling safe without those fingerprint background checks? Uber and Lyft should just hire some Texas Roller Girls to sit in the front seat and make sure that nothing untoward happens. No driver is going to mess with a derby girl. Just give riders Roller Derby Security option for a few bucks extra and blammo! No more pesky city council.
The real point here is that Uber and Lyft could have gotten hyper-hyper local and really Weirded it up with the rest of us as much as possible, making friends and paying it forward instead of turning to propaganda and threats over the council’s decision to introduce ID requirements. By working hard to earn a positive spot in Austinites’ hearts and minds, they would have found themselves victorious this week. Instead, they’re pulling the plug on one of America’s hottest tech hubs and creating a vacuum for alternatives, because we honestly love on-demand ridesharing in this city.
Hopefully this vote against Uber and Lyft will lead to other companies that have better labor practices to come in and fill in the gaps and do an even better job. This is one of the best places to launch a tech company in the U.S. — so there’s probably some new venture preparing to fill Uber and Lyft’s void that’s launching right this second.
What do you think Uber and Lyft could’ve done to not alienate its Austin customers?