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Lyft slyly mocks Uber in new Jeff Bridges ad

Commentary: Lyft's ad never mentions Uber. The theme, though, is all about it mattering how you get there.

2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


He's traveling with the good guys, allegedly.

Lyft/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Uber has made a rather painful mess of its brand image. What of its rival Lyft? 

It seems to have sat quietly, perhaps even enjoying the show. (Well, haven't we all?)

Now, though, the slightly nicer ride-hailing service has decided to softly address the notion it's more decent than Uber.

In a new ad featuring Jeff Bridges, Lyft explores the transportation choices people have made in the past.

Here we are in 1836, with a grizzly old Bridges going, well, somewhere along the Oregon Trail.

"You always have a choice," the impressively bearded Bridges says. "You can choose to ride with the right people, doing things for the right reasons and you end up in the right place."

Now where might these righteous words be aimed? Surely at its still much larger rival. In fact, the tagline gives it away.

"It matters how you get there," it reads.

Neither Uber nor Lyft immediately responded to a request for comment. 

How touching, though, that the competitor to Uber and its bro culture has hired the Dude to be its spokesman.

I've chatted with drivers who operate under both the Uber and Lyft banners. They see little difference between the two services. If anything, one recently told me, the Uber app is smoother to use. I'm not sure riders think much differently.

That might offer a clue as to why Lyft feels the need to find a meaningful point of differentiation.

The fact that Lyft has invested in Bridges and other well-known actors -- a future ad will star Tilda Swinton and Jordan Peele, according to Adweek -- suggests the company has decided to capitalize on Uber's haplessness to hone its own identity in the minds of the undecided.

After all, Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has many issues to deal with. Those include a serious legal spat with Alphabet-owned Waymo over allegedly stolen self-driving car technology.

The Uber brand image is now in the hands of former Apple Music executive Bozoma Saint John, the company's first chief brand officer. 

Before she's even executed any sort of plan, here's Lyft with a shot across Uber's hubcaps. 

I wonder how aggressive Uber's response might be. Or will it, too, try to create touchy-feely joy and goodness around its tarnished image?

I see ads in which Travis Kalanick sings and dances with happy Uber drivers. That might burnish the reputation of a company whose erstwhile Uber CEO had to apologize for berating a driver.

Here's a thought for the music: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."