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Uber launches new ad campaign to sell Chicago on airport pickups

Written by
Clayton Guse

Uber launched a new TV and radio advertising campaign that aims to convince Chicagoans (more specifically the City Council) to allow the ride sharing service to pick up riders at the city's airports. The TV spot opens with a helpless traveler unable to catch a cab in his neighborhood. It then shows a woman who gets passed by an empty cab.

"That's the reality with taxis," the ad states. "But now, you have a choice." The ad proceeds to point out that Uber will pick you up "anywhere...except at the airport," as it cuts to an image of a long taxi line at O'Hare and prompts viewers to urge their aldermen to approve ride share pickups at Chicago's airports.

The campaign is far and away the hardest shot Uber has taken at Chicago's taxi companies, which have protested and lobbied Uber's expansion in the city. The ads are being released a week before the City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve uberX pickups at Chicago's airports—a move that would net the city an additional $20 million in annual revenue, according to a press release from the company.

Since it launched in Chicago in 2011, Uber has done a pretty good job of bringing access to transportation to underserved and often overlooked communities across the city. Today, more than half of Uber's 2 million-plus monthly trips begin or end in an area "classified by the city as underserved by taxi," according to the company's release. Whether or not that warrants services like Lyft and Uber to pick up riders at O'Hare and Midway is up for debate.

This is only the second time that Uber has launched an advertising campaign of this magnitude. The other instance was when they were lobbying for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow uberX to operate there. It worked, by the way.

Uber claims that their app was opened more than 180,000 times at O'Hare and Midway in September by people looking for a ride home. If they have their way, those riders will be able to enjoy a slightly easier commute from the airport, and Uber will pocket a whole mess of cash.

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