2017 PR Flop #5: Uber’s Never-Ending List Of Scandals
For Uber, 2017 has been nothing short of scandal-filled. The string of controversies began late 2016 when it was announced that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanic, would be joining President Trump’s economic advisory council. Kalanic was one of many executives criticized for joining Trump’s advisory board, but the criticism had little effect then on the company.
Things were really set in motion last January, after Uber turned off surge pricing following a taxi strike in opposition of President Trump’s proposed travel ban prompting the #DeleteUber movement, which encouraged a flurry of customers to delete their accounts in protest of what was viewed as support of the ban and an affront to protestors. Uber claimed the campaign had not affected the company’s bottom line, but anonymous sources within the company shared that 500,000 customers deleted their accounts in the week following the campaign. The movement was also credited as the reason Kalanic stepped down from Trump’s economic advisory council.
Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of Uber’s bad year. Since then, Uber has been pummeled with a seemingly endless string of bad news. Just a month after #DeleteUber, former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, published a blog post detailing Uber’s culture of sexism and her own story of a mostly ignored sexual harassment complaint. Later that month, the company was hit with a lawsuit from Waymo for trade secret theft and more backlash following a video of Kalanick arguing with a driver about plans to lower prices—and those are just a few of the scandals Uber dealt with this year.
The company has attempted to take control of the situation by issuing a number of high profile resignations, including that of Kalanick after demands from investors that he resign. Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is expected to lead the company to an IPO in 2019, but the insidious string of PR disasters of is likely to haunt the company for years to come.
The 5 Biggest PR Flops of 2017:
#1: Facebook’s Fake News and Fake Ads
#2: United Airlines’ Turbulence
#3: National Football League and the National Anthem
#4: Pepsi’s Stab at World Peace
#5: Uber’s Never-Ending List of Scandals
Kaitlyn Smith is an account executive at Flackable, a national public relations and digital marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia. Follow Kaitlyn on Twitter at @Kaitlyn_Perez.