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

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

The saying is pretty tongue in cheek. It's not saying that marketers are bad people, nor that they don't take themselves seriously. There...

LYF Solutions

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in