A new advertising fail from Uber tries to localize to SF, but the campaign uses an image from the wrong city, showing Sausalito in a shot that purports to be the Marina District.
You can see why Uber would launch a localized advertising campaign at San Francisco International Airport — jet-lagged and bedraggled travelers would surely be keen for the quickest and easiest way out of their airport drudgery, and off to destinations and attractions in, say, the Mission, the Embarcadero, or the Marina District. But Redditors and Twitter users are having a field day with Uber’s current SFO kiosk ads, a "localized" ad campaign that clearly shows a lack of local knowledge.
It's absolutely hilarious that @Uber, a San Francisco-based company, has purchased localized ads at SFO that are so incoherent, it's clear nobody involved in making them has ever been to San Francisco. pic.twitter.com/c5ul81h66R— Emey isn't paying for this (@emeyerson) February 8, 2023
Let’s focus on the large image to the left above, which says “See you in Marina District.” But that photo is not of the Marina District, it is a photo of Sausalito, some seven miles to the north of the Marina.
A Wednesday Reddit post mocking the ads also takes Uber to task with SF’s famously fussy pickiness when it comes to how locals prefer to grammatically use prepositions and definite articles like “the” and “in.” And while this is not a major error, anyone who speaks San Franciscan knows that if you use the phrases “in Marina District,” “at the Mission,” and “at Embarcadero,” well, that’s three strikes right there at sounding like a local. Still, most of the ridicule is coming over the Sausalito houseboat picture for the Marina.
.@Uber Sausalito is great but use my picture for the Marina District.— Ashkan Mizani 🏗 SF (@ashkanstweets) November 23, 2022
- Marina local 👋 pic.twitter.com/bq2SedSCYt
Another tweet dated November 22 shows the campaign has been at SFO since around Thanksgiving, though the social media peanut galleries are just noticing it now.
But are the peanut galleries on Reddit and Twitter sure they are correct when they say it’s Sausalito, and not the Marina? SFist isolated the image part of the advertisement, seen above, and did a reverse image search to determine the location of the shot.
Our search took us to a stock image called “Floating homes of Sausalito, San Francisco” on the subscription service Adobe Stock Images. While there seems to be some filtering work done to Uber’s version of the image, the similarities are otherwise uncanny. The position of the the three visible boats, and the items atop them, are exactly the same. Light reflections on the houseboats shot the exact same dimensions. The reflections on the water are the same on both images.
Yes, there are boats docked in San Francisco’s Marina District, but certainly hot Sausalito-style houseboats of this caliber. San Francisco does have some houseboats at Mission Creek, which is completely on the other side of town, but they are not as numerous or congregated together as what is depicted on Uber’s advertisement.
Anyway, see you at the Mission.— Emey isn't paying for this (@emeyerson) February 8, 2023
People are rightfully giving Uber some guff over this, given that the company is based in San Francisco, so maybe someone ought to have caught this. In reality, the ad campaign was probably sourced out to some third-party agency. And many special media commenters are speculating this campaign may have been created by some sort of AI chatbot mechanism. Which may be so, but it seems the AI chatbot may have done this campaign after knocking back a few AI cocktails.
Related: Uber's Half-Billion-Dollar Marketing Campaign Reportedly Hasn't Helped Its Reputation [SFist]
Image: @emeyerson via Twitter