Uber’s Hot Spot Lost in Translation

Sex sells, whether you like it or not. Being bold and controversial also seem to sell. But is there a point when advertisers need to take a step back? Dial it down?

The French branch of Uber, the popular ridesharing service, came out with a new promotional service entitled “Avions de Chasse,” which translates to a slang phrase for “incredibly hot chick.” The service would consist of “incredibly hot chicks” picking up their customers and driving them to their desired locations. However, the website clarified that the trip cannot be longer than 20 minutes, which already alludes to the fact that the service may be abused by unsavory guests.

Photo from Avions de Chasse website.

Photo from Avions de Chasse website.

According to Buzzfeed, who first broke the news, the Uber France website described the service in more detail. The post has since been deleted from the Uber site, but the standalone microsite Avions de Chasse still contains the following description:

“Avions de chasse” is the French term for “fighter jets”, but also the colloquial term to designate an incredibly hot chick. Lucky you! the world’s most beautiful “Avions” are waiting for you on this app. Seat back, relax and let them take you on cloud 9!”

The Avions de Chasse site also contains images and videos of scantily-clad women in the area that users can connect with, along with a way to apply to be “one of the prettiest girls” featured on the site.

Screenshot from Avions De Chasse website.

Screenshot from Avions De Chasse website.

Once the United States and beyond caught wind of the promotion, all hell broke loose. Some former fans of Uber even threatened to stop using the service.

Tweet from @nelhage

Tweet by @nelhage

Tweet by @DEDMOJO

Tweet by @DEDMOJO

 

After numerous complaints, Uber France took down the promotion and apologized to their fans on Twitter.

Tweet from @UberLyon

Tweet from @UberLyon

According to CNN, the founder of Avions de Chasse, Pierre Garonnaire, claimed that the promotion was widely accepted in France, but clearly unappreciated in the United States.

“They didn’t anticipate the reaction of Uber U.S. In the U.S., you are more Puritan. For me and most of the people of France, it was a good [idea]. It was fun,” said Garonnaire in an article from CNN.

Was this promotion in bad taste? Because of our cultural differences, can we even speak about what is tasteful for French standards? Will this promotion negatively affect the Uber brand in general?

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