Uber quietly announced an interesting partnership with British soccer (football) club Chelsea yesterday, one that will see the e-taxi company offer delivery drivers to fans wishing to procure a new replica jersey. But curiously, this won’t be available in London, Chelsea’s home city.
The new Adidas kits will be offered exclusively through Uber for a full five days before they go on sale to the general public on July 22. Uber has partnered with sports teams before, but as one of the world’s most valuable soccer brands and winner of last season’s English Premier League title, Chelsea is a major scoop for Uber as it looks to ingratiate itself with taxi-using citizens around the world.
However, only eight cities will be able to take advantage of the offer — Cape Town, Los Angeles, Moscow, Mumbai, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Fans enter a promo code for their city into the Uber app and request the “Chelsea” option, and a shirt will arrive at their door within minutes.
The omission of London — or any U.K. city for that matter — is an interesting point, and one that hints at a bigger factor.
Though France has hogged the headlines of late in terms of anti-Uber sentiment among taxi drivers, London cabbies have also been expressing their unhappiness at what they argue is a lack of regulation around the taxi app, taking to the streets in protest and causing gridlock. By partnering with Uber, Chelsea will surely alienate hundreds or even thousands of fans who happen to be taxi drivers.
Indeed, in the wake of the partnership announcement yesterday, a number of fans used their Twitter accounts to make their feelings known.
Not a fan of @ChelseaFC teaming up with Uber. Boo!
— Chelsea HQ (@Chelsea_HQ) July 16, 2015
Chelsea FC teaming up with Uber is an absolute disgrace. Uber are ruining the livelihoods of many Chelsea fans and even more Londoners.
— ChelseaFansChannel (@ChelseaFansYT) July 16, 2015
While Uber and Chelsea will undoubtedly claim that this partnership was focused specifically on international fan-bases who aren’t able to attend games, it’s difficult to imagine that the London cabbie situation wasn’t a factor in omitting the U.K. capital from the promotion.
At any rate, this tie-up with Chelsea shows that Uber is betting on exclusive access to big brands as part of its marketing strategy. But with Uber facing mounting pressure in many countries around the world, it will likely have to consider local sentiment among the taxi-driving fraternity when working out the finer nuances of its campaigns.