During June 2008, Uber ran the above advertisement to coincide with the one year anniversary of marriage equality returning to California (Rinkus, 2014). Holm states that “advertising is a direct product of capitalism” and that “capitalism exists as a kind of background noise in most media forms” (2015, p. 13). Affirmably, analysis of the advert reveals clear messages about capitalism and the ideological belief that happiness can be achieved through consumption.
The vector-based advert features a black car with a “just married” sign and tin cans tied to the back. Instead of a limousine or classic car typically associated with weddings, the vehicle is similar to those available from Uber’s car-sharing service. Set above the key message, “say I do with Uber”, is the outline of a wedding ring with a large diamond. The advert’s graphic nature, as opposed to being photo-realistic, reduces the car and ring to symbols only, lessening the prominence of financial costs associated with weddings. The background features Uber’s corporate blue, reinforcing the brand whilst simultaneously creating a gender-neutral palette to speak to a wide audience. Further outlines of cakes, champagne flutes, and streamers create a greeting card or gift wrap quality, emphasizing the festivity of weddings and inviting the reader to participate in the event.
The advert endorses the idea that instant gratification is easily attainable. On a blue rectangle representative of Uber’s smartphone app buttons is the message “on demand weddings”. The connotation being that with the press of a button, an event which is often time consuming and expensive to organize, will happen instantly and effortlessly – adjectives that Uber similarly equates to its car-sharing service. Williams (2005) likens such advertising suggestions to “magic”, because consumers are led to believe that the power to control their environment (as well as gaining social respect, health, beauty, and success) is attainable through consumption, or in this instance, booking a ride through a car-sharing service (p. 189).
Uber utilized the act of marriage to define their brand and reach out to customers. Marriage equality is relatively new in the US, and by declaring their support, Uber promoted themselves as modern, progressive, and inclusive. Those being wed were told to invite as many guests as desired, with flowers, candles, desserts, champagne, and the honeymoon all supplied for free by sponsors (Rinkus, 2014). In a joyful setting, this obvious product placement is framed as generosity rather than advertising, advocating the ideological belief that capitalism is meaningful because it aids the creation of authentic events. With this promotion, Uber connected the emotions of love and happiness to their brand, whilst establishing themselves intimately amongst customer’s family and friends.
In our modern society where speed and efficiency are highly valued, Uber claims to optimize the traditional way of doing things – for both weddings and taxi services alike. However, more than “a kind of background noise”, the advert brings consumerism to the fore, selling Uber as a lifestyle choice where special moments are spontaneous, attainable, and life’s logistics issues are resolved ‘on demand’.
Holm, N. (2015). Advertising, capitalism and ideology. Week four reading.
Rinkus, S. (2014, June 26). Tie the knot this weekend with UberWedding.
Williams, R. (2005). Advertising: the magic system. Culture and materialism. London: Verso.