London cabbies make Uber mistake


Yesterday the streets of London's commercial and tourist district were brought to a standstill by one of the largest brand communications campaigns of all time for Uber, the app-based cab firm that's taking the world by storm.

The irony is that it was organised and funded by their arch rivals the famous London black cab drivers, colloquially known as cabbies.

Well that probably wasn't their intention. The incumbent cabbies are furious about their local monopoly being threatened by a challenger brand so to show their fury they decided to stage a collective day of action by driving super slowly around Central London yesterday effectively creating total gridlock.

They achieved this. The trouble is that they also ensured that every London citizen who ever walked the streets searching for a cab now knows that there is a really effective alternative - Uber. Not only this but because the story was spun out in local, national and even international media potential Uber users were given on-air tutorials and testimonials explaining exactly how to use the service. The equivalent media dollars to gain that sort of exposure is mind bogglingly large. On the day Uber's new customer registrations were reportedly up 850%.

London cabbies are justifiably famous around the world for their expertise and experience - any traveler knows the frustration of jumping in a cab in Dubai, Mumbai or Sydney only to find out that the driver only arrived in town yesterday and has no idea where the museum/hotel/office that you want is. But they are also very expensive and although they can turn on a sixpence they're frankly not that comfortable.

So let's see what happens next - as it's World Cup time it feels like the game has started with an unfortunate own goal.