Uber vs Careem: choosing obsession over value proposition in Ramadan!

It’s just about time, Careem!

It’s Ramadan time. The the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which all Muslims start fasting for 30 days. Ramadan is also that month of the year in which all companies operating in the MENA region start competing to display their most creative Ads on TV and on social media.

Ramadan is literally like the Super Bowl & Christmas combined for 30 days & every company seeks to promote itself and the value it offers.

As the first day of Ramadan came to an end, the picture below was doing the rounds on most social media outlets.

Careem KSA

In case your arabic is not that good, let me translate that for you. Careem KSA tweeted a question to its follows, wondering what does feel like for their competitor (AKA Uber) when they congratulate Muslims saying Ramadan Careem?

Uber KSA tweeted back with a marketing message that got the praise of almost everyone. They simply replied by twisting the typical “Ramadan Mubarak” with “mUBERk”. Different spelling but delivers the same meaning while actually using their brand. They outsmart Careem.

At this time of the year, it is perfectly normal to see such things on social media. Brands playing with words in a creative/new way to capture people’s attention especially during Ramadan (given the number of Ads being shown on TV and/or social networks).

But quite frankly, this is not the first time I see Careem’s marketing team explicitly comparing the service they offer to Uber’s. It was fun in the beginning but it’s getting a little bit too much.

Careem UAE

The picture below shows an Ad for Careem playing with words while obviously referring to Uber in UAE.

Careem Egypt

Things in Egypt were so different. Back in December 2016, when Careem Egypt launched a nationwide initiative, offering free rides to all hospitals in Egypt for blood donation after the explosion inside Cairo’s coptic cathedral, the company’s Managing Director in Egypt back then, Wael Fakharany, asked Tino Waked, Operations Manager, Uber Egypt to do the same thing via Facebook.

It’s all about positioning!

Given the fact that Careem now operates in 53 different countries across the MENA & South Asia region, and when you put the 3 previous cards (from 3 major markets like Egypt, UAE, and KSA) beside each other, you actually get a sense of what Careem is trying to do here!

It’s so obvious that Careem is trying so hard to position itself as startup company with an Arab/Muslim background which qualifies it to play the role of a regional hero.

They focus on harnessing the privilege of being born in the Middle East (particularly UAE) and using it to drive a sentiment of loyalty to the brand.

It’s a really smart move, even if it is not entirely true (Mudassir Sheikha & Magnus Olsson are not even Arabs), but they are playing it all wrong.

Plain & simple, Careem is trying to win the biggest market share by promoting being local, rather than promoting innovation, developing new transportation solutions, and helping people move around smoothly & easily.

On the other side of the fence, Uber promotes the opposite. They’re focused on doing the work, improving their service around the world, and providing low-cost effective means to transportation. Check out their latest service uberPOOL and you will get what I mean!

Even their “our story” page tells a brief history of innovation & moving the global transportation industry/service forward.

Again, playing the MENA region’s hero is a smart move but they have to make clear that they have their own track, their own goals, and put an emphasis on the actual value they bring to their customers. Comparing themselves to their rivals is old school marketing. It makes it look like they are selling a commodity.

A personal opinion

My opinion as a customer to both Uber & Careem, the way Careem does marketing makes me feel that they’re constantly trying to catch up with Uber. They are obviously saying we are number 2 and we have to take down number 1 by playing the local hero game.

I know for a fact that Careem didn’t invent that service, Uber did! So when I constantly see them comparing themselves to Uber, it only makes me take the side of the company that puts in the work and focuses on improving its own lane.

As a person who is working in the field of Content Marketing, I believe Careem can do much better than this. They should really focus on their WHY and their HOW rather than their WHAT.

Why Careem is different?

Why should I choose Careem over Uber?

How is Careem innovating to make transportation better in the Middle East?

How are they helping overcome the notorious Egyptian traffic in Cairo?

How do Careem sees the future of transportation in MENA region?

I have no doubt that Careem’s intention is to really high-quality service to its customers, but they should focus their marketing efforts on creatively showing that, instead of giving me some nice tweets that only makes Uber look smarter than them.

Again, let me make it clear that I am not taking sides here. I have the utmost respect for both companies. My only loyalty is to the true value that companies can offer their customers and to the creative approach they can follow to make their value proposition clear.

Lastly, it not Ramadan Careem, nor Ramadan mUBERk…it’s either Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak :)

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