Lyft’s Latest Ad Campaign Uses ‘HR as PR’ to Take a Swipe at Uber

Across the last 12 to 18 months, we have observed on an ongoing trend of HR as PR. The premise of this concept is that in addition to promoting their HR strategies with the goal of attracting and retaining the best quality employees, some companies are taking that a step further to make the case that because they treat their employees so well, you should become their customer. This is the PR part of the play.

One example of HR as PR is the trend of companies—most recently American Express—adopting more generous parental leave policies to present a more caring, family-friendly image to both employees and consumers. Another great example is the 30-second TV spot above, one of a series Lyft just released in which they satirize their leading competitor, Uber, as a diabolical entity called “Ridecorp” whose executives mock Lyft for allowing customers to tip their drivers through the Lyft app.

What’s clever about these ads is that they serve as both a recruiting pitch to drivers and a sales pitch to riders at the same time.

First, the ad points out that by being a driver for Lyft, you get tips and can earn more money, the implication being that they are a better employer (the HR part). Customers, meanwhile, receive message is that riding with Lyft is better than Uber because Lyft cares more about their drivers and lets them take tips (the PR part). It’s a message we’ve seen other rideshare startups embrace as a key component of their brand.

This is a smart strategy on Lyft’s part, and as Insight founder Justin Bariso observes at Inc, it appears to be working, as Lyft’s ads have gotten a lot more attention than Uber’s latest ad:

With over a million views, the Lyft ad has been seen almost twice as many times as Uber’s ad (even though Lyft’s ad debuted over a month later). In fact, all four of the ads from Lyft’s campaign have over a million views each, less than a month after launch. (Getting one ad to go viral is a major challenge. But four? That’s near impossible.)

The popularity of these ads illustrates the power of an emotional connection–people identify with the humor, to the point that they’re willing to share. And all that positive sharing will only be great for Lyft and its brand.