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Uber's Pitch to Cannes Jet Set Takes Stunt Marketing to Extreme

The private-car-hailing app is no stranger to splashy stunts to generate buzz. This might take the cake.

More than a year ago, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, told me it's in his private-car-hailing company's DNA to always "roll with a little bit of flair." 

Uber's particular brand of flair has ranged from cute (roses on Valentine's Day for female Uber passengers) to hipster-twee (ice-cream truck delivery, with complementary neon Uber tank tops) to borderline garishly wealth-flaunty (helicopter to the Hamptons, anyone? No? And here I thought I was in Uber's target demographic).

This week, Uber is not only extending another spectacle-for-purchase to the small fraction of 1 percenters who would actually buy into such a blatant PR stunt (and who are apparently really bad at planning): Booking a private jet to the Cannes Film Festival. Car service to and from the airports is included. It better be: The private Paris to Nice trip is $8907.52. (A round trip on Air France, for comparison, is $212.00.)

It's no surprise Uber is still working with private-jet companies, after co-founder Garrett Camp gently let his Uber-spinoff, BlackJet, slide away. For this promotion, the San Francisco-based company, which operates in hundreds of cities in 35 countries, is working with Goodwill Private Jets, a Paris-based luxury-travel logistics company that also specializes in medical evacuations and yacht rentals.

Aside from just being an idea with extremely limited appeal, this publicity stunt is also Uber's way to thumb its nose at the French government, which has been floating the idea of limiting companies' abilities to use cell-phone-based customer geolocation

Here's guessing customers will thumb their noses at this latest stunt.

Last updated: May 13, 2014

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.

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