#UberIceCream Is Coming on July 18, But Is Anyone Else Kind of Sick of All These Weird Publicity Stunts?

OK, so maybe delivering ice cream isn’t quite as showy as renting out helicopter rides to the Hamptons, but Uber is at it again with another attention-getting promo. This time, they’re serving up ice-cold treats on demand ‘in a whopping 144 cities across the globe — and it’s happening on Friday, July 18, which only gives us one day to prepare. Get your smartphones ready, because #UberIceCream is coming.

Here’s how it works: According to Uber’s blog, all you have to do is choose the “ice cream” option when you open the app tomorrow. If there’s a vehicle available, your tasty treat will arrive shortly thereafter (“in minutes,” says the ridesharing company) — and you don’t even need to have cash on hand to get it. Instead, it’ll simply be charged to your Uber account. Bear in mind, though, that “demand will be very high and availability limited,” so it can’t hurt to have a backup plan if you absolutely need to have ice cream tomorrow. It can’t take that much more effort to walk to the grocery store, right?

I don’t know, though. I’m skeptical. No matter how fun and hip Uber tries to appear, I just can’t get beyond my initial misgivings:

  1. They feel the need to charge us extra just to keep us from getting assaulted;
  2. That extra fee doesn’t actually guarantee that we won’t get assaulted;
  3. They’ve been shown sabotaging other sharing economy car companies and overcharging users;
  4. Their marketing person who cornered me on the street was really dishonest with how she presented the company. I had no idea that Uber wasn’t just a limo or cab company; not once did she mention that I would essentially be doing some high tech hitchhiking if I used the app.

To be honest, every single time Uber has broken out one of these totally off-the-wall promotions, all I can think is, “I see what you’re doing, Uber, and no, this will not distract me from all the negative press you’ve been getting.” I don’t often feel bothered by manipulation in advertising, but the ice cream and wedding stunts in particular feel dishonest in a way that, say, Always’ “Like a Girl” and Pantene’s “Not Sorry” campaigns don’t. Always and Pantene are trying to raise awareness about important issues while selling me something. Uber is trying to distract me from the stuff people are saying about them while selling me something.

But maybe that’s just me. Even so, as our very own Julie Alvin noted while we were chatting about it, if Uber really wants our business, the ice cream should be free. Sure, it’s convenient that you can bill it to your account, but free ice cream trumps convenient ice cream every time.

Image: Giphy