Uber Is Spending Like Crazy On Ads To Prove It’s Been Reborn

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Uber, the ride-sharing giant, has purchased a number of slots for ads that try to portray somewhat new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as a rejuvenating force for the company.

One advertisement, cheekily titled “Moving Forward,” features Khosrowshahi explaining how since he joined in August 2017, his “priority has been to listen to you.” The video shows the corporate head attentively concentrating on people seeming to provide their feedback.

“I’ve seen a lot of good, we’ve changed the way people get around, we’ve provided new opportunities,” Khosrowshahi narrates. “But moving forward, it’s time to move in a new direction.”

Uber is planning on spending up to $500 million this year on ads that will focus on depicting the company as reborn, according to multiple reports, showing that Facebook isn’t the only company that’s been engaging in an apology tour of sorts in recent weeks.


That new proverbial and literal direction is away from former CEO Travis Kalanick, who was accused of cultivating a “bro” culture in which woman were allegedly belittled, demoralized and sexually harassed. The underlying ethos of the company also appeared to be cutthroat, as employees reportedly did whatever it took to one-up each other instead of working together. The firm also created at least three spying programs that were respectively aimed at sidestepping predatory regulators, out-maneuvering its primary rival Lyft, and supposedly snooping on celebrities, politicians and even ex-boyfriends and girlfriends of employees. There are several other missteps and deeply objectionable accusations against the company, like top executives analyzing a rape victim’s medical files in an apparent attempt to verify her allegations against an Uber driver. (RELATED: Uber Sued At Least 435 Times In 2017, Says Report)

Kalanick, for some time immediately following his ousting by the Uber board, expressed his desire to reattain his seat at the helm. He reportedly claimed that he was “Steve Jobs–ing it,” a colloquialism presumably in reference to the now-deceased Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was fired at one point, but eventually brought back on.

But Uber’s carrying on without him, indirectly and essentially saying “it’s not us, it’s you.”

“One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing. And if there are times when we fall short, we commit to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it,” Khosrowshahi said in the commercial, which has been broadcasted across the country on national television. “And you’ve got my word that we are charting an even better road for Uber and for those that rely on us everyday.” (RELATED: Uber, Google Settle Heated Legal Battle For $245 Million)

If the quasi-rebranding will be successful in convincing people it has fundamentally changed is not yet known. But if the slate of controversies even ever hurt its future prospects in a substantial way is dubious. Uber did lose $2.8 billion in 2016, a considerable amount of money, but it is now valued at $72 billion. Still, what matters most is if the campaign of remorse will boost its public perception ahead of its highly anticipated stock market launch.

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