Can free food, games and movies help Uber smooth out its publicly rocky relationship with drivers? The ride-sharing app hopes so.
On Sunday, Uber rented out the iconic Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River, Md., for 12 hours, turning it into a pop-up space for drivers in the area to hang out for the day. The company worked with New York production company The Bindery to create the branded venue.
Uber commissioned a local artist to create a retro-themed mural and decorated the space with themed signs. It served nachos, snacks and drinks in branded cups and containers and offered carnival games with prizes. The drive-in also played the films Lego Ninjago and It, as well as a stream of the NFL game between the Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders on Bengies’ screen, which claims to be the largest movie screen in the country at 52 feet high and 120 feet wide.
Outside of Baltimore, 10 Uber Greenlight Hubs—locations where local drivers can get help and assistance—offered drivers branded swag for stopping in.
The event is the latest part of Uber’s 180 Days of Change campaign, which launched in June as a way to make “meaningful changes” for drivers in the wake of a long string of controversies about the company’s toxic culture and murky payment practices for drivers. In January, Uber paid $20 million to settle a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the app made misleading and inaccurate claims about driver earnings.
In conjunction with launching 180 Days of Change this summer, Uber rolled out in-app tipping for drivers, notifications for long drives and extra fares for picking up Pool (a carpool feature) riders.
According to a rep, the theme for Sunday’s event was flexibility. “Drivers have always come to Uber for work that is truly on their terms—work with no boss; work that fits around their lives; work that’s always available when they want it,” the rep said.