Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the ads on the Super Bowl support the game or it's the other way around. Many companies spend millions each for a moment of captured audience fame. Others create non- or anti-Super Bowl promotions. That's what Uber's doing.

Rather than becoming yet another voice campaigning to stand out in a cacophony of usually strong marketing competition, the ride-hailing company has decided to do a giveaway for the city whose team loses.

People in the city of the losing team can get a free ride from Uber for an hour after the crushing defeat. Well, with limitations. You have to be a member of the Uber Rewards program, although you can join ahead of time for free if you've got a bad feeling about Sunday night. You get a promo code that, depending on the outcome, will only work either in Boston or Los Angeles. The value of the ride has to be $50 or less. It's also only good for the economy rides, like UberX, UberPOOL, or Uber Express POOL.

(What, you lost and you thought you'd be treated to some fancy experience after? Suck it up and be glad you get anything at all.)

Promotions involving winning or losing Super Bowl cities aren't new. Last year, DVD-rental company Redbox did something similar. People in Boston, which lost, could get one free movie the day after.

It's even been done for people in a city with no connection to either team. In 2014, a Houston-based furniture store ran a promotion in which they flipped a coin to see whether the business would root for the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks. The customers were given the other side. Anyone who spent more than $6,000 on furniture delivered by game day could get a full refund. The store, Gallery Furniture, took Denver. When the Broncos won, about 1,000 people got to cash in, at a cost of about $7 million--or 5 percent of the company's annual revenues--on the part of the store, as ESPN reported.

According to the story, companies usually take out insurance to cover their losses. Gallery didn't, assuming that the promotion would catch the attention of media and consumers.

You know, for that kind of money, they also might have been able to run a Super Bowl ad. Well, there's always next time.

Published on: Jan 29, 2019
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