On a Maiden Ride

What makes now the right time for Uber’s first TV out­ing? That’s one of the ques­tions we asked the brand’s re­cently ap­pointed mar­ket­ing head San­jay Gupta.

The Brand Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - By Sankalp Dik­shit sankalp.dik­shit@afaqs.com

What makes now the right time for Uber’s first TV out­ing?

To an­swer that ques­tion, we started four years back and dur­ing this time the mar­ket grew dra­mat­i­cally. What has changed re­cently is our scale of op­er­a­tions,” ex­plains San­jay Gupta, Uber’s mar­ket­ing head be­fore adding, “we are now in 29 cities and just com­pleted 500 mil­lion trips so tele­vi­sion now be­comes an ef­fi­cient medium to have a con­ver­sa­tion with your con­sumer. In the ear­lier avatar, when our con­sumer base was smaller, one-on-one com­mu­ni­ca­tion on digital was more ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient. If you look at the spends or the amount of work that we do, digital is still our lead medium but we are now start­ing to put a lit­tle bit of tele­vi­sion in our ad­ver­tis­ing mix be­cause it has be­come ef­fi­cient given the scale of Uber.”

Of late, Uber cre­ated ma­jor buzz in the In­dian mar­ket­ing hub with new an­nounce­ments pop­ping up ev­ery now and then. First, a new creative agency (Tap­root Dentsu) comes on board, then we are in­tro­duced to the new mar­ket­ing boss and now the app based car ser­vice com­pany has made its de­but on tele­vi­sion with its first ever TVC in In­dia. Is this a mere co­in­ci­dence or are we miss­ing some­thing here? “We were al­ways look­ing at tele­vi­sion, so ir­re­spec­tive of who I think would have been the mar­ket­ing head at Uber, this would have hap­pened. But yes, I have done this be­fore and I be­lieve very strongly about this medium (tele­vi­sion) as well. My role, how­ever, would have been a very small in the larger scheme of things”, in­forms Gupta.

The 46-sec­ond-long ad, which

Ti­tled ‘#Ap­niHiGaadi’, the ad was re­leased re­cently on the brand’s YouTube page.

“We are now in 29 cities and just com­pleted 500 mil­lion trips so tele­vi­sion now be­comes an ef­fi­cient medium to have a con­ver­sa­tion with your con­sumer.” SAN­JAY GUPTA

was re­leased re­cently on the brand’s YouTube page, is ti­tled ‘#Ap­niHiGaadi’. Gupta tells afaqs! Re­porter that there is a big­ger agenda here. He says, “...we re­alised that those who ride with us more fre­quently have ac­tu­ally made Uber their pri­mary mode of mo­bil­ity. So, if they are car own­ers, they stopped us­ing their cars or re­duced its us­age dra­mat­i­cally. Or peo­ple who don’t own cars can post­pone buy­ing one be­cause they can stick to Uber. Hence, for the in­fre­quent users we wanted to com­mu­ni­cate that Uber can ful­fil all the re­quire­ments that one’s own car does.”

The ad por­trays var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions in which peo­ple are shown board­ing an Uber for dif­fer­ent pur­poses. A lay­man may per­ceive Uber’s tar­get au­di­ence to be the work­ing class in­di­vid­u­als who take Uber for work. How­ever, that’s not quite the case here. “When we started do­ing our con­sumer re­search, our hy­poth­e­sis told us that peo­ple like you and me are the ones who use Uber for reach­ing of­fices and hence digital is go­ing to work. But both quan­ti­ta­tive data (which is where peo­ple take rides) and the qual­i­ta­tive data (on why peo­ple take rides), re­ally sur­prised us. We saw that there is a large por­tion of peo­ple who use Uber for other than work pur­poses. For ex­am­ple on week­ends or dur­ing mid-break, the di­as­pora that uses Uber is very dif­fer­ent from you and me. We have a lot of el­derly peo­ple who don’t want to drive any­more and they also don’t want to keep a driver be­cause they go out only 5-6 times a month. Lots of women and fam­i­lies have just one ve­hi­cle in their house and if the per­son who is work­ing has taken that to work then the rest of the fam­ily mem­bers take a cab. So when we started get­ting this in­for­ma­tion, we did more re­search and we re­alised that more and more peo­ple use Uber for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions and that is how the film came about. In a nutshell, it ba­si­cally de­picts what is hap­pen­ing,” elab­o­rates Gupta.

How­ever, an Uber TVC with zero men­tion of dis­counts or deals? In times when both Uber and Ola are just a swipe away, what gives Uber the con­fi­dence of ig­nor­ing the price sen­si­tiv­ity of its mar­ket while com­mu­ni­cat­ing higher or­der con­cepts like car­ing and be­long­ing? Gupta shares with us, “...the suc­cess of the cam­paign will be if you can bond a lit­tle more with Uber than Ola. So, if you look at our app to­day, there are lot of pro­mos and dis­counts that our rid­ers get. What you see in this ad are our most valu­able rid­ers, who will choose us ir­re­spec­tive of the al­ter­na­tives avail­able. Our best rid­ers will come to us for the ‘Uber ex­pe­ri­ence’.”

Tap­root Dentsu is new to Uber and Uber is new to TVCs; hence what was the brief that the agency kept in mind while craft­ing this ad since there was no ref­er­ence point per se? Pallavi Chakravarti, ex­ec­u­tive creative di­rec­tor, Tap­root Dentsu says, “The brief was well-de­fined - how do we make Uber us­age hap­pen ev­ery day, for every­one? How do we move it per­cep­tu­ally, from be­ing an in­dul­gence used for special oc­ca­sions, to a habit? How do we in­fuse warmth and forge a con­nec­tion with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life, across ge­ogra­phies? Our think­ing was sim­ple - once you own some­thing, once it’s yours, it stops be­ing an in­dul­gence. That’s how ‘Isey Apni Hi Gaadi Samjho’ was born.” ■

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