Ride arranger Uber Technologies may have lost a round with Colorado transportation regulators, but the firm is winning fans and professional athletes with a series of marketing initiatives. The latest, announced Wednesday, is a partnership with the NFL Players Association for pro football players to get rides around town using Uber. The deal means that Denver Broncos players, after a night of any post-game celebrating, can use Uber’s smartphone application to connect with a limousine or town car company. Like many other NFL teams, the Broncos have seen several players and coaches arrested for driving under the influence.
“Uber prides itself on finding creative solutions to difficult challenges, and being able to use our platform to create a safer environment for players and their communities was a natural fit,” says Uber co-founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick.
Anyone can already use the Uber service, but the partnership with the NFLPA will provide players with keychain cards loaded with ride credits.
San Francisco-based Uber launched service in Denver last year. The firm quickly found itself at odds with taxi companies that viewed Uber as an unregulated competitive threat.
A Denver administrative law judge last month proposed regulatory changes that could drive Uber out of Colorado or at least force revisions in the way the tech upstart operates. One of the key changes would prevent limo companies from using an iPhone or other electronic devices to help calculate fares.
Uber’s appeal of the ruling is scheduled to be heard by the Public Utilities Commission on Sept. 17.
University of Denver social marketing lecturer, Michael Myers, says Uber’s public relations initiatives may not help the company in its regulatory battle, but it is winning customers.
“It makes complete sense and it’s easy to use,” he said. “Getting a taxi is a convenience, but using Uber is an experience.”