From Susan Sarandon's Twitter feed:
The switch was prompted by this email that (I assume) all Lyft users (including yours truly) received today:
Many of my friends in the corporate law academy (and elsewhere, for that matter) are deeply supportive of corporate social responsibility and deeply suspicious of corporate use of funds to advance a political agenda. So I wonder how they will approach the Lyft ad? Is it being socially responsible? Presumably they'll say yes and with enthusiasm, even though the email arguably misdescribes the executive order in a number of respects. (For a sensible substantive analysis of the order, go here.)
But if they are okay with spending corporate money to advance this political agenda (if that is what it is)? If so, aren't they really saying that corporate political spending only offends them when it advances causes with which they disagree?
Personally, I don't have a problem with Lyft's email. I am a regular Lyft user and will remain so. Why? because I think Lyft's action makes perfect sense from a profit-maximizing perspective.
The bulk of Lyft's business is conducted in large coastal cities. In other words, Obama/Clinton country. By engaging in blatant virtue signaling, which it had to know would generate untold millions of dollars worth of free coverage when social media and the news picked the story up, Lyft is very cheaply buying "advertising" that will effectively appeal to its big city/blue state user base.
Lyft's biggest competitor, Uber, has not done itself any favors either, as the company did not join a wider JFK airport taxi ban meant to protest the Trump order. As a result, the hashtag #DeleteUber was trending on Twitter yesterday.
Over on that social network, some loyal Uber users are vowing to switch to Lyft as a result of the generosity. In other words, while the donation was not necessarily meant to be a means of advertising, the kind gesture could be a boost for the Lyft brand.
"Not necessarily means to be a means of advertising"? if not, Lyft's managers are a lot dumber than I give them credit for being.
Lastly, all this brings to mind an empirical question for which I have been able to find an answer: Is Uber's user base more evenly distributed across red and blue states than Lyft? And, if so, will Uber take that into account?