You’ve heard of Uber cabs and Uber Eats. Possibly, you’ve even used them. If you live in London, Sheffield, York, Edinburgh, Leeds, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester or East Anglia, the chances are that, at some stage of your evening, you have – maybe when inebriated – travelled in BJ’s silver Toyota Prius at a knockdown fare. It might not have been the smoothest, smartest or most smell-free ride of your life, but it got you from A to B. If you wanted luxury, you’d have called a limo. Or, at least, a black cab.
Which is why Uber’s next move is surprising, to say the least. Actually, it’s so surprising that, when the email plopped into my inbox, I damn near fell off my chair. Are you sitting comfortably? Because Uber definitely wants you to be. In fact, you could say it’s the entire motive behind its latest venture, Uber Shoes.
Those still struggling with the current onslaught of ugly trainers, who are now shivering at the prospect of clapping eyes on the footwear equivalent of a Skoda Octavia, a Honda Insight or a Vauxhall Insignia need not fear: this isn’t a range of shoes, but a one-off. Uber has teamed up with fancy shoe designer Charlotte Olympia to launch “a gold, glittery pair of high heels that come with a special surprise”. Alas, the surprise isn’t that they’re understated and comfy, or even that they come with an Uber-appropriate knockdown price tag. In fact, they cost a whopping £695. The twist? That this eye-watering cost includes £500 Uber credit to – ta-da! – “get you home safely after a night partying on your feet”.
I know. You were expecting a carriage. But, while this modern-day Cinderella story definitely #needswork, you do have to commend Uber for trying. As marketing gimmicks go, it’s certainly unusual. Some might even say it’s genius. Dark genius, clearly, but still.
With Christmas-party season incoming, women are braced for the usual slew of ads trying to sell them the idea that 'glamming up' (vom) in glittery gold heels, a sexy dress and more make-up than usual is mandatory
According to Uber’s research, 61% of women are more likely to wear “glamorous shoes” if they’re being driven to and from the venue (no shit, Sherlock), and 45% of partygoers will opt to take an Uber or taxi when wearing heels to and from an event. Much as I love public transport, I’m undeniably one of those women whose cab bill shoots up sharply in November and December, a fact that is not entirely unrelated to the increased likelihood of me wearing high heels.
While no one is advocating that women should stagger, cold and uncomfortable, down darkened streets in a short red party dress and five-inch heels, if they can afford a cab to keep them safe and cosy, surely Uber is missing the point when it talks about the service having “all the chivalry of a knight on horseback”. I don’t have a problem with chivalry, but I do have a problem with the implication that a man foots the bill for my Uber journeys. Sorry, but I am my own knight, and I rescue myself.
With Christmas-party season incoming, women are braced for the usual slew of ads trying to sell them the idea that “glamming up” (vom) in glittery gold heels, a sexy dress and more make-up than usual is mandatory, as though to greet the festive season in anything less marks them out as a loser. So, it doesn’t surprise me to read that Uber’s own data suggests that “women are opting for style over comfort”, on the basis that its survey found that 23% of women claimed that picking a party outfit is “the biggest stress of the festive season”. How convenient.
Without wishing to state the obvious, if it’s stressful, don’t do it. Charlotte Olympia might claim that “the higher the heel, the better you feel”, but this mantra isn’t for everyone. Like so much else at this time of year, it’s glib marketing speak. A more modern example of which would be: “You shall go to the ball – in whichever shoes you please.”