Four years after it launched in London, Uber has rolled out its first above-the-line campaign across the UK which it has described as a “necessary evil” to broaden its demographic beyond committed early adopters as well as sign up new drivers to continue to scale the business.
Called ‘Getting There With Uber’, the out-of-home adverts put the drivers behind an Uber-wheel at the centre, telling the stories of why they are working for the service. This focus on its drivers is underpinned by a ‘rebrand’ it underwent in last February which similarly served to highlight the individuals who front the brand on a daily basis.
This change in tact came after a troublesome few years in the UK market for Uber that has seen it contend with numerous protests by traditional black cab drivers that they are being forced out of business.
Last December, its own drivers turned on the company, protesting outside its HQ after a decision was made to increase the commission drivers must share with it, while more recent reports have stated that some British drivers are now suing the firm for workers' rights and compensation for lost earnings.
However, speaking to The Drum Rachael Pettit, Uber’s marketing lead in the UK, explained that the ATL campaign is not a reaction or attempt to neutralise negative publicity, but rather an “evolution of the marketing strategy” that to date has relied on word of mouth, partnerships (with clubs and conferences, for example) and the occasional stunt. This ‘start-up’ mentality has taken Uber far and growth continues at pace claimed Pettit. Reports suggest as many 30,000 people in London alone download Uber and order a car for the first time every week.
But to expand beyond its core group of committed early adopters, humanising the brand has become vital.
“[This campaign] is an expression of the brand that will be important for us [going forward],” said Pettit. “It’s our first honest picture of how we care about our partners and drivers which I’m not sure has always come through.”
Six different executions (shown below) feature drivers and riders showing how they use the app to help them get where they want. The driver aspect of the campaign shows how they are working with Uber to earn extra money to fulfil their own personal goals while the riders talk about how the service helps get them home after night out or to the airport to catch a last minute flight
It will run on outdoor sites across London, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Merseyside as well as across the underground network in London. The campaign will also be supported by radio ads and a ‘selfie campaign’ on social media will run online as people are encouraged to share their own stories.
Not only is it the first ATL campaign for Uber in the UK, but also the first piece of work to come out of its relationship with BBH following its appointment earlier this year. Pettit said this campaign is the “starting point” for it to dip its toes further into more broadcast mediums.
“[ATL] is a necessary evil for every brand and it feels quite daunting but we’re hopeful for the results,” she said.
Uber’s bank of data has been indispensable in shaping the app, and so it’s unsurprising that it’s taken a data led approach to make sure ATL marketing is a scalable investment.
Before the campaign launched, Uber decided on the conversion rates it deems acceptable to help it understand if the campaign can leverage the right level of growth for it to be a viable channel in the long term.
Post campaign, it’s working on a number of different measures to build an attribution model in the UK.
“We’re trying to broaden our demographic from early adopters to use cases which we haven’t explored. It’s tough to attribute ATL well, but we’ll be tracking a bit of everything,” said Pettit.
Beyond that it will continue to harness general population polling – something new to the brand –to get a sense of the spontaneous and unprompted views of Uber from people across the UK.