This morning, I came across a recent post on LinkedIn by friend and esteemed brand marketer Barry Enderwick, entitled, A Tale of Two TV Ads: Lyft and Uber. In it, he critiques the two ridesharing leaders' most recent television spots, and points out what the brands get right and wrong.

Here's Lyft's ad:

And here's Uber's:

In Barry's opinion, Uber gets a lot of things right with its ad, including the fact that the spot is relatable, as well as the focus on benefits for drivers.

In contrast, he feels Lyft drops the ball on its ad for the following reasons:

  • They spend a majority of the ad making fun of "Ridecorp," a thinly veiled reference to Uber.
  • They try to get across their benefits via ridicule from "Ridecorp" execs dialog.
  • The Lyft brand is rather minimized.
  • The tone is snarky, which doesn't align with the Lyft brand.

"It's clear which brand knows it is in first place (Uber) and which brand knows it is not (Lyft), just by their approaches to recruiting," Barry writes. "But secondly, and more importantly, which does a better job addressing the benefits to entice potential drivers? Clearly Uber does."

I have a lot of respect for Barry and his opinion, and this time's no different. (I pointed out similar lessons to Barry's in a piece criticizing Slack's recent ad fail in The New York Times.)

Still, as I watched both ads, I couldn't help but notice:

I identified more with Lyft's message than Uber's.

Barry's right; it is snarky. But I feel the ad executes well by highlighting Lyft's efforts to reward drivers, contrasted against Uber's reputation for being insensitive to drivers' needs.

Of course, anyone considering driving for one of these companies would want to make a decision that took hard data into account, rather than focusing solely on the emotion evoked by the ads.

Nonetheless, one piece of data illustrates Lyft's brilliance:

With over a million views, the Lyft ad has been seen almost twice as many times as Uber's ad (even though Lyft's ad debuted over a month later).

In fact, all four of the ads from Lyft's campaign have over a million views each, less than a month after launch. (Getting one ad to go viral is a major challenge. But four? That's near impossible.)

The popularity of these ads illustrates the power of an emotional connection--people identify with the humor, to the point that they're willing to share. And all that positive sharing will only be great for Lyft and its brand.

Which brings us to the moral of this story:

When you make a real connection, the biggest risks always pay off.