Uber just dropped off an iPhone charger and NFL star at my door


NFL running back Andre Ellington surprised me on my Uber ride today. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Tourists are invading Phoenix like locusts this weekend thanks to the Waste Management Open and a little football game called the Super Bowl. And while all the snowbirds are running around the valley watching golfers, snapping pics of gridiron superstars and taking in the unbelievable Arizona weather, Uber has a secret plan to lure fans into its black sedans.

Starting today, Uber is partnering with Mophie to deliver free JuicePacks to riders across the Phoenix valley, and they might just throw in an NFL superstar to go with it.

This afternoon I tested out the Mophie giveaway and wasn’t surprised how quickly an Uber SUV pulled up to my apartment. But when my driver opened up the passenger door to reveal Arizona Cardinals’ running back Andre Ellington, chilling like this is just what he does in the off season, I nearly lost my cool.

“We’ve got four sedans roaming around the valley loaded up with JuicePacks and a few surprise guests,” Uber’s Phoenix rep told me while extending a Mophie relief bag from the back of the Chevy Suburban. “Most drivers will even have one in their cars, too, so you can charge while you’re getting around town.”

Despite being ferried around town from fan-to-fan, Ellington was cool and friendly. We posed for a selfie and had a quick chat about the craziness of the Super Bowl week and the Cardinals’ season for a few minutes before he was back in the SUV and off to surprise the next Uber rider.

Along with Ellington, Uber has enlisted the Giants’ Rashad Jennings, the Colts’ Coby Fleener and the Chiefs’ Justin Houston to greet Uber users throughout the Phoenix metro area.

It’s a brilliant marketing play to get NFL fans to try out the service while they’re in town (and then maybe use Uber again in their own cities). It appears to be working, too. Uber drivers I’ve spoken to in the valley who also drive for Lyft say the ratio of ride requests is about 10 from Uber for every three from Lyft.

Uber says the Mophie Rescue promotion will run through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Phoenix, North Scottsdale and Old Town Scottsdale. So if you’re running around to the different Super Bowl festivities and need a quick charge, just pull up the Uber app and your complimentary power pack will be on the way in minutes.