Uber, that poster child of paradigm-disrupting digital commerce, has officially launched a beautiful print magazine.
“The ride-sharing tech company is launching a magazine in several major cities for drivers and riders titled Vehicle,” writes Maxwell Tani in The Daily Beast. “A mix of journalism, poetry, and more branded content, the publication has already published two initial editions focused on Seattle and Washington, D.C., both of which shipped to some local offices last week.”
“This was a way for us to learn about people in cities and share those stories,” explained Alexander Nazaryan, an advisor and contributing writer on the magazine. “We really wanted to share the stories of people very respectfully and honestly without resorting to voyeurism or lurid gaze that tourist magazines sometimes have.”
I don’t necessarily agree with the shade Nazaryan is throwing at the travel magazine niche – we’ve seen some absolutely stunning examples of new travel titles like Far & Away along with some impressive redesigns of late – but I do love the idea of another digital-first brand leaping into print.
“In addition to profiles of Uber drivers,” Tani writes, “the Washington, D.C. issue, for example, features stories that would be familiar to readers of local publications like the Washington City Paper or The Washington Post’s local section—e.g., lengthy articles on the famous Florida Avenue Grill diner or the activist church Saint Stevens, or histories and explanations of Mambo sauce and go-go music.”
It’s the right idea at the right time, for a variety of reasons. For one, hyper-local journalism is booming, with regional and city magazines continuing to thrive. Combine this trend with the solid ROI of brand publishing, and Vehicle could do a lot of good for the company’s perception with the public.
“Nazaryan said the publication does not have a specific audience in mind,” Tani adds, “but he hoped riders would find the magazines in the back of Uber vehicles and peruse them during their rides.”
It’s a similar idea to the always-popular in-flight magazines that have been thriving of late, too. Keep your eyes open for a copy, and if you get your hands on one, let me know what you think!