Can Sean “Diddy” Combs save New Year’s Eve?

Sean Diddy CombsA cause marketing effort that mixes celebrity, technology, social media, and social good should intrigue pretty much everyone, right? That’s what the makers of CIROC Ultra Premium Vodka are hoping for.

Sean Combs (who you may know as the-man-who-has-changed-his-name-several-times-and-now-likes-to-be –called-“Diddy”) oversees all branding and marketing for CIROC. This New Year’s the brand is teaming up with the transportation app Uber to provide discounts for safe rides home on New Year’s Day 2014.

Drinking and driving is a horrible combination, and most prevalent each year on New Year’s Eve. So, throughout December people are urged to pledge to #CIROCthenewyear on Twitter and Facebook, making their commitment to never drink and drive. When CIROC receives 10,000 pledges using the hashtag, Uber will provide new app users with a $25 coupon code, up to a maximum total of $1,000,000.

CIROC increases social responsibility and awareness, Uber gets new users, people get home safely. It sounds like a win-win-win, right?

That Diddy is no dummy. At 12:00pm EST on January 1, 2014 he will personally tweet and post a special code for new Uber users to redeem their discount. (Note how that read new Uber users.) The rides will then be made available on a first come, first-served basis, and consumers will be able to sign up with their code at Uber.com.

Here’s where it could get tricky. That 12:00 pm was EST. So what happens if 1 million people on the east coast have already gotten their rides home by the time it becomes midnight on the west coast? Is that a possibility? Perhaps Uber makes out like a bandit when those people have to pay full price for their rides, or maybe they find another way home? That part was not mentioned in the press release.

This year marks the brand’s sixth annual Safe Rides campaign. CIROC will also host additional pledge parties throughout the month of December. To drive additional awareness about the severity of drinking and driving, CIROC will also take over marquee billboards in Times Square (which we realists call premium real estate). Consumers will be able to post a photo using the hashtag #CIROCthenewyear to appear on one of the billboards. All month long Combs and various other celebrities will be surprising pedestrians by collecting pledges at undisclosed locations. Who wants to make a bet that those will be filmed for posterity?

Now I am not knocking the effort here. Any campaign, brand infused or not, that could potentially save lives is an incredibly important one (even if it is a bit transparent). I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Regardless of whether you make the pledge to CIROC or not, please drink responsibly so everyone can get home safely on New Year’s Eve – and every eve.

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