Since 2013, Austin Schumacher has overseen entertainment marketing and content at Lyft, leading the development of Lyft’s branded entertainment program. Amongst Lyft projects like Kevin Hart: Lyft Legend and June, you may have heard (over and over again, given the series’ nearly 40 million cumulative views) of the largely successful series Undercover Lyft, in which famous athletes and celebrities pose as Lyft drivers, ultimately revealing themselves to their unsuspecting riders. In addition, Schumacher has been responsible for Lyft’s influencer marketing program and Lyft’s studio co-marketing activations for films including Ghostbusters and Back to the Future.
Brand Storytelling connected with the man behind the wheel of these many successful content operations to get a better understanding of where Lyft’s inspiration comes from, where its creative is headed, and what company growth means for Lyft’s content future.
How has Lyft’s content plan grown and changed since the early days of Undercover Lyft?
Our overall goals haven't changed from the start in that we want to find unique ways to tell our story while contributing meaningfully to culture. Over the last few years, we've done this through owned and partner content, and we're always looking for new ways to communicate our message. That could be through new formats, a unique partner, or uncovering new insights that lead to great creative ideas. We're thinking about content differently these days in how we engage with partners, whether it be co-producing content or looking at integrations as a way to play a different role in the world of entertainment.
You have such entertaining and versatile content, from June to Kevin Hart: Lyft Legend. Where does your inspiration come from?
We have an incredibly talented internal creative team that drives a significant portion of our content. We also look to outside partners where it makes sense to tap into new audiences and develop ideas that might have a different tone or perspective on a creative idea.
What is the most critical factor you consider before moving forward on a new piece of content?
We always need to stay grounded in our values, and make sure that our content reflects positively on our passenger and driver communities.
Fortune Mag recently stated that Lyft could have one third of the US rideshare market by Christmas. What does this mean (if anything) for the future or Lyft’s content marketing?
It's an exciting time for the industry as a whole and we've had a very productive year. With a lot of momentum heading into 2018, we need to stay focused on the message and continue pushing into new creative territory. We're growing the team throughout the year (shameless plug in case anyone's looking...) and can't wait to share our new work!
What are you looking forward to seeing and hearing at Brand Storytelling at Sundance film festival 2018?
It's a great group lineup this year and I'm excited to check in with old friends and meet the new folks we haven't seen the last couple of years. Content-wise, I'm excited for the new MacGillivray film, America's Musical Journey. See you guys out there.
Hear more from Austin Schumacher and the rest of our advisory board in January during Brand Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival 2018. Please visit our website for more information on how you can attend this one-of-a-kind event.
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