There's something compelling about watching Uber and Lyft duke it out in advertising. Their services are the same; their personalities are not. Sometimes they surprise us.
Days after news of Parisian toy car caper—an idea we found whimsical and playful, despite its constraints of timeframe and availability—Lyft has released "Nope/Yep," which is quite the opposite.
Created by Wieden + Kennedy, it's an easy watch but not much more. Coming from Lyft, which developed a market with scrappy creativity and a human-centered focus, that's surprising.
The story's easy to follow: A driver gets stuck in traffic. Suddenly he's like, "Nope," and reverse-drives all the way home. That trip is sprinkled with lots of weird interactions for our viewing pleasure.
When he gets home, the Lyft he ordered rolls up and we're treated to the life he's opted for instead: a medley of yesses! Yes to music. Yes to closing the deal. Yes to drinking, because he's not the driver. This is how those Grey Poupon guys must feel, getting chauffeured around and exchanging condiments all day.
Once you've seen "Nope/Yep," you'll understand "Yep, You Can," which builds on the idea that Lyft is all about yes!, by highlighting the many ways you can say yes.
We actually watched "Yep, You Can" first, which made it woefully confusing: Why would Lyft fill my life with yesses? What things do I get to say yes to? The reasons why are never specified in this standalone piece, which makes it feel vacuous on its own.
Otherwise, the spots are fun enough. But the insight, and its relationship to the execution, are messily expressed: Why would choosing not to drive improve a day that still requires being in a car? This question is important, because the campaign hinges on it.
In "Nope/Yep," the dude opts of driving because of traffic. But being driven doesn't get rid of traffic, or make you more likely to show up on time (apart from saving you from parking). It reduces stress (if you're not in a hurry), and maybe lets you focus on things you could otherwise be using that captive time for.
The spot seems to concede this. On the protagonist's reverse trip, it haphazardly tosses in a bunch of other good reasons to not drive: We see people multi-tasking while driving, car crashes, and other vehicular shit-shows. There's a car salesman and a cop; neither is an issue if you don't need a car, or aren't driving a speeding one.
Message received: Driving is stressful. Say no to driving, say yes to not being stressed. But the road to understanding this could be simpler: The pleasure of saying yes to Lyft actually comes from being able to relinquish control—saying no to being the one who must define the route, pick the right lane and assume consequences.
Am I OK with not being the driver? Yes. Am I OK with not worrying about the next turn? Yes. Am I OK with admitting that the sum of my life is not hitting all my meetings successfully and on time, because sometimes that just doesn't happen? Sure.
I'll get in a stranger's backseat. I'll make a friend, look at the sky, enjoy my city and maybe even shave without risking decapitation. I can switch Waze off, not get pissed about traffic, and inhabit my life without worrying about the speed limit.
These are all worth a yes, and none of that is actually about traffic: If you still need a car, that problem won't be solved. The only thing you can help is the seat you're in when traffic hits.