Victorian Taxi Association shows claws to Uber with wildlife rescue donation

Association lashes out at the UberKittens promotion this week with its own donation to Wildlife Victoria

The Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) has pounced on Uber’s ‘UberKittens’ promotion earlier this week with its own donation – this time, to Wildlife Victoria.

The association announced it had made a contribution today to Wildlife Victoria in support of their efforts to rescue and assist injured, orphaned or distressed native animals.

In its initial statement, the VTA said the donation was a direct response to the ‘UberKittens’ promotion, which it labelled the “latest in a string of glib marketing campaigns from a company more interested in finding ways to promote their own brand than providing a safe and legal transport service”.

The group had initially said the donation was aimed at helping Wildlife Victoria control "feral" wildlife. This has since been amended and clarified as a donation to assisting Wildlife Victoria's emergency response services in helping injured, orphaned, sick and distressed native animals.

The VTA criticised the timing of Uber’s feline stunt, pointing to hearings for 11 UberX drivers in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court yesterday following prosecution by the Taxi Services Commission. The hearing has since been delayed.

“Uber’s efforts should focus more on preventing alleged incidents like those that happened on New Year’s Day and complying with Victorian law,” the association stated.

“Our contribution to Wildlife Victoria will support efforts to combat the impact of introduced species on the Australian landscape.”

The VTA also pointed people to a petition on Change.org against Uber using rescue animals for a PR stunt: https://www.change.org/p/uber-please-end-using-rescue-animals-for-a-pr-stunt-cute-for-us-but-terrifying-for-these-babies. At time of press, more than 900 people had signed the petition online.

For the Uber Kitten promotion yesterday, the shared car services company has partnered with animals shelters across six Australian cities to bring kittens to its customers while they’re in the office for a 15-minute cuddle.

The initiative was aimed at encouraging Australians to put their disposable income into caring for neglected animals and asked consumers to donate $40 for the privilege.

While it was successful when it first debuted in the US last year, the Australian promotion has provoked some concerns for the welfare of these furry friends.

The rather controversial PR stunt also comes after Uber was forced to recognise a number of high-profile issues with its service, such as a surge in pricing during the Sydney Siege, and allegations of rape against one of its drivers in Sydney on New Year's Day.

Director of CP communications and author of From Unknown to Expert, Catriona Pollard, said the one thing Uber’s kittens stunt did successfully was grab attention.

“It used two things almost everyone loves - baby animals and cute cat photos - and combined them with the virility of social media. On the surface, the adorable factor was through the roof. It was also clever in highlighting Uber’s offering,” she commented.

“But we stop there. With any public stunt of this nature, careful thought needs to be put into considering the potential negative fallout.”

In this case, Uber and/or its agency partner didn’t cater for animal lover backlash or subsequent petition, Pollard said.

The VTA’s response to the Uber stunt, meanwhile, is unnecessary, reactionary and also potentially risky, Pollard said.

“There’s no authenticity there,” she claimed. “When a brand goes head-to-head with its competitors in a marketing sense, it’s very risky and very rarely results in a positive outcome. This is a perfect example of that.

“VTA needs to stick to its own strategy, its own messages, rather than get lured into public mud-slinging matches with rivals. This is not the road to social media or business success.”

Editor's note: This article has been amended following clarification from Wildlife Victoria that its efforts are around rescuing distressed native animals, not feral cats, as previously stated.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

5 common mistakes to avoid in scalable customer experience

CX is about future-proofing your business by ensuring that your commercial model is always looped into your customers' needs, perceptions, values, beliefs, motivators, and detractors.

Tom Uhlhorn

Founder and strategy director, Tiny CX

5 cornerstones of a strong digital culture

Creating a strong company culture may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, company culture is created in exactly the same fashion as a religion or democracy. Behaviours created from the organisation’s inception are reinforced over time by leadership, attracting like-minded people and eventually reaching critical mass to become an accepted ‘truth’.

Anthony Stevens

Founder and CEO, Digital Asset Ventures

Should you rebuild your company’s tech stack in blockchain?

The question I get asked most regularly these days is: ‘Do I need to rebuild my company’s systems on Blockchain?’ And the answer, every time, is ‘No, you’re asking the wrong question’.

Michelle O'Keeffe

CEO, Engaging.io

2012 To 2014 I was haven herpes 1 and 2 spreading all over my body even on my private part too. I have had them for about 2 and a bit y...

Silver Sandy

New channel launched for Chinese-Australian Medibank customers

Read more

What is your opinion about chatbots serving your customers? My belief is bots are going to be the future of customer service and fulfilme...

Giridhar Prathap Reddy

NAB taps power of AI chatbots for business customer service

Read more

Thanks for writing about chatbots. Definitely bots have the exciting future when it comes to customer engagement, transactional and conve...

Giridhar Prathap Reddy

Deloitte TMT Predictions: AR and mobile crucial for marketing success in 2018

Read more

Hi there! Thanks for this interesting article! I love to read about new technology and software that makes our lives easier. I'm looking ...

Julia Summer

Wartsila overhauls Web platforms to create ‘seamless’ brand experience across all devices

Read more

RE: Sales and marketing SLAs, often the choke point isn't the teams but them getting the data into the tools they want to use with the da...

Ed Fry

Why sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in