Uber’s ad campaign encourages a sedentary lifestyle: Commuters

Uber’s ad campaign encourages a sedentary lifestyle: Commuters
As of Friday (Aug 25), the Uber app lets a rider indicate additional stops — up to three — at the point of booking, and find out the total fare upfront. AP file photo
Published: 9:45 PM, September 7, 2017
Updated: 9:51 PM, September 7, 2017

SINGAPORE — Uber’s recent advertising campaign has raised some eyebrows, with posters and billboards pitching its private-hire car rides to those who want an extra 10 minutes’ sleep or who do not like to perspire.

Some commuters are saying that the ads appeared to promote a sedentary lifestyle, which runs against the Government’s call for people to exercise more and stay active, but there are others who do not see any harm done.

Mr Desmond Loh, 33, a business consultant, said that given Singaporeans’ hectic work life, most are already finding excuses to skip physical exercise or take better care of their health. “People don’t need yet another excuse (as suggested by the ads),” he said.

Ms Charmaine Ang, 26, an architect, commented that since Uber rides seem so convenient and affordable, people can forget to keep active “outside their exercise hours”.

The ads, which were put up at several MRT stations including City Hall and Orchard, have since been taken down by transport operator SMRT.

One of the ad taglines read: “If your office is a 10-minute walk away, but your tolerance for sweat is 0, Uber.”

Another poster stated: “If it takes you 10 minutes to walk here, but you’d rather spend 10 more minutes sleeping, Uber.”

The messages could be construed as jarring with the Government’s efforts to get the population to make walking, cycling and riding public transport a way of life. The Transport Ministry has also made known its aim to have three in four commuters choose public transport as their main mode of travel by 2030.

Responding to the feedback, an Uber spokesperson said that while it may be convenient to walk, “there are (periods when) individuals might need support and options to get around more efficiently”. Such times could be “after a late night out, after a grocery run, or in between meetings”.

Mr Leigh Wong, Uber’s head of communications for South-east Asia, said that the ads are part of “an ongoing marketing campaign focused on riders between June and December this year”, carried out across multiple media channels.

One social media strategist, Ms Lily Cao, 25, said that the ads have no impact on her lifestyle. “I personally work out a lot, but I am not against taking Uber, which is a luxury.”

Ms Corinna Drysdale, 57, head of operations at a production company, said that while she goes to the gym and uses a fitness tracker to keep count of the steps she takes, she could still take Uber if she was tired, sick or needed to get somewhere quickly.

“Taking Uber once in a while won’t deter me from walking to the gym (the next time). To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s really about how you choose to live your life from day to day,” she said.