The fleet-owner members of the international Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) were facing a wave of unfair business competition from Uber and Lyft. Claiming they were merely technology companies, Uber and Lyft were providing passenger transportation in a manner identical to taxicabs in a growing number of American and international cities. These unregulated companies were purposefully circumventing long-standing laws in order to lower their operating costs. Uber, in particular, was spending millions of dollars on public relations and lobbying offensives.
Melwood Global was tasked with explaining why these popular services should adhere to passenger transportation laws.
Melwood Global conceived of and launched a nationwide public awareness campaign called “Who’s Driving You?” that developed and focused on how passenger safety was being sacrificed by Uber’s and Lyft’s approach to business. In particular, the campaign exposed Uber’s and Lyft’s inadequate insurance coverage and lack of fingerprint-based background checks. The campaign delivered steadfast focus on this issue through thousands of media interviews and mentions, a website that doggedly tracked and listed allegations of criminal misconduct by Uber and Lyft drivers, and the development of a robust Facebook page with tens of thousands of followers.
The campaign generated more than 8,000 media hits, attracted 34,000 followers on Facebook and established itself as an expert source for reporters. It has secured coverage in every top-tier media outlet including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and The Los Angeles Times as well as the nation’s top tech outlets such as The Verge, TechCrunch and Recode.
The media campaign generated a multi-year debate among media on the key differences between two forms of background checks. By highlighting a constant stream of passengers harmed by Uber and Lyft drivers, the campaign steered the challengingly arcane topic of background checks into becoming a central discussion item in state legislatures across the country. The Washington Post recognized TLPA as Uber’s “primary lobbying foe at the national level,” and USA Today called “Who’s Driving You?” a “vigorous media nationwide campaign.”
This question of effective background checks has been covered by American and international reporters, has generated numerous position papers by policy groups and continues to be weighed by state regulators and legislatures.
Overcoming initial skepticism from the media, the campaign established itself — and successfully positioned TLPA — as being among the foremost experts and advocates for responsible public safety measures. After a barrage of negative PR, the Uber CEO stepped down.