For Super Bowl Promo, Uber Teams With Visa To ‘Drive’ Shoppers To Whole Foods, Dick’s Sporting Goods

The ride hailing service is showing its potential as an important connection point for highly-targeted loyalty/rewards platforms.

The first few weeks of 2016 have shown Uber making good on its ambitions to be more than just an on-demand car service.

From UberRUSH’s delivery deal with Nordstrom as part of an omnichannel service extension to a whimsical gathering of puppies for its users (just because it can), Uber’s expanded definition as a “transportation” company comes as it brought out a major redesign of its app this past week.

At the same time, it also used this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 to put a better spotlight on its alliance with Visa that’s intended to show its unique value as an online-to-offline bridge between brands and consumers.

On Tuesday, the same day it unveiled it app makeover, Visa cardholders in select cities were also presented with a direct rewards offer for shopping at Whole Foods in support of Uber’s wider Super Bowl 50 promotion efforts in San Francisco, where Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos is being held.

To give Uber users outside of San Francisco a connection to the Super Bowl, an event that brings all kinds of marketers together, the on-demand car service’s program expands on its existing relationship in the Visa Commerce Network, which was rolled out at the end of January.

Uber's Visa Commerce Network Super Bowl 50 promo for Whole Foods
Uber’s Visa Commerce Network Super Bowl 50 promo for Whole Foods

Visa, along with its rivals MasterCard and American Express, are vying for merchants’ usage with various promises to create online and in-app commerce experiences to acquire new customers, drive loyalty, and increase sales with targeted, personalized offers.

Visa Commerce Network works by connecting payments between two merchants, as in the case of Uber’s part in connecting that company’s cardholders to Whole Foods outlets.

The promotion to Uber users begins with an image marking Visa’s sponsorship of the NFL and Super Bowl 50. When an Uber user opened the app earlier this week, they were greeted with a pop-up detailing the offer saying they could save $20 off their next Uber ride when tapping “Accept” to the Visa offer, which involves making a purchase with the same card at Whole Foods.

Uber riders who made their purchase by Feb. 3rd  were entered for a chance to win two tickets to Super Bowl 50 and a trip there, Uber told GeoMarketing.

To ensure the deals would be relevant to riders, Uber said it only showed the offer to users who lived in an area near a Whole Foods. (Whole Foods has more than 300 stores across 42 states.)

As for those areas where Whole Foods is not situated, some Visa-carrying riders will see a promotion to spend $20 at any grocery store, Uber told GeoMarketing.

The Super Bowl 50 collaboration with Visa follows Uber’s first partnership with Visa in December 2015. In that effort, Boston-based Uber users received discounted rides when they used their Visa card at their local Shake Shack.

Visa claims that Shake Shack saw customer acquisition rates “in the double digits,” as well as “higher customer spend levels.” In turn, Uber riders saw the offer rewards automatically credited to their Visa cards.

That same frictionless use of rewards and payments is being used to drive business to Whole Foods.

#RUSHMYSHIRT: Dick’s delivers to Chicago and NYC fans via Uber.

Post-Game Rushing

Separately, UberRUSH extends Uber’s Super Bowl 50 connection in a t-shirt sales promotion with athletic apparel and gear chain Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Fans in Manhattan and Chicago can purchase championship t-shirts immediately following the game, “delivered free of charge” once the items are purchased through the DSG microsite. The program, dubbed #RushMyShirt, calls for deliveries to begin roughly two hours following the game. It ends when the shirts are sold out.

“Partnering with Uber to bring this exclusive experience to displaced fans of the Broncos or Panthers living in Chicago and New York City is really exciting for us,” said Ryan Eckel, VP of Brand Marketing, DSG, in a statement. “Sports provide a crucial sense of community, particularly for those living far from home, so we wanted to find a way to create a ‘home-field’ celebration for the winning team’s fans. On Sunday, they can be wearing an official championship t-shirt hours after their team wins the big game.”

That effort comes a week after on-demand driver app’s same-day delivery service, has signed up a series of high profile partners including Nordstrom, T-Mobile, and Google Express, among others — who will all use Uber’s API to manage their drivers and couriers for day-of delivery.

Uber’s Appeal As Key Link To Loyalty

As the Visa explains it, a hotel can offer its guests a deal at local restaurants. To ensure that consumers won’t have any privacy concerns, cardholders have to opt-in to allow Visa and its partners to track usage (i.e., “engagement”) in exchange for being sent rewards.

The purchases are recognized at the point of sale, while rewards can be seamlessly applied to cardholder accounts — eliminating the need for coupons or redemption schemes.

Aside from Uber and Shake Shack, more than a dozen businesses including Dunkin’ Donuts and movie theater chain Regal Entertainment Group have signed onto the Visa Commerce Network, Visa said.

Uber fits neatly in the center of most deals that involve a consumer going from one place to another. In addition to its core service as a transportation provider, Uber has paved the connection points between seamless mobile payment and the use of location intelligence.

As brands struggle to figure out how to get someone to download an app and remain engaged Uber’s utility of getting someone from one point on a map to another, Uber’s game plan is not an easy one to adopt without a fleet of cars.

But as brands look to tap into apps that consumers regularly use by presenting clear benefits —a discount is only one such example — the possibilities for Uber to influence and align physical and digital shopping at a quicker, easier pace seems increasingly clear, even as early as the first quarter for location-based marketers.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.