In maiden ad in India, Uber takes emotional route

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Published: October 4, 2016 6:05:55 AM

In its maiden commercial in India, Uber takes an emotional route to counter negative perceptions

uber-lLooks like Uber has taken a lesson or two from its arch nemesis Ola and stayed away from any kind of tongue-in-cheek communication based on pricing in its first ever brand campaign in India.

Campaign: Move Forward
Brand: Uber
Company: Uber India
Agency: BBH India

Rating: 3/5

The Ad

The digital film opens on a young girl at the back seat revising her lessons while being driven to school. The driver manages his way through traffic to get the young girl to school on time for her test. As they drive to the school, the girl is seen talking to the man in English asking him questions from her GK book. The film then reveals that that the Uber driver is actually the girl’s father, implying that he can afford an English medium school for his daughter, thanks to Uber. The man then gets ready for his Uber pickup. The film ends with the message, “Shankar moves forward, Uber moves Shankar.”

Our Take

Looks like Uber has taken a lesson or two from its arch nemesis Ola and stayed away from any kind of tongue-in-cheek communication based on pricing in its first ever brand campaign in India. Remember the Ola Micro ad for its R6/km positioning which sort of sank without a trace? By moving beyond the transactional messaging prevalent in the sector, Uber is playing a different tune altogether. It is clearly an attempt at brand building with a focus on both driver partners and consumers. Will a clear emotional plank aimed at connecting with the masses help the number two cab aggregator? Only time will tell. The ad does make Uber aspirational for a driver partner with that video of an English-speaking daughter studying in a posh school. Talk about selling dreams! A father-daughter duo further adds to that dream of a good life.

“This story (which could well be the story of any of the thousands of Uber drivers) is essentially about the dreams a dad has for his child and how being an Uber partner helps him achieve that dream,” says Russell Barrett, chief creative officer and managing partner, BBH India.

According to Uber, the Move Forward campaign is built on real life anecdotes and traces the day in life of a driver partner and its riders. The campaign comprises four digital films to be released over four weeks. While the first two in the series talk about the impact Uber is having on driver partners, the other two ads are from the rider’s point of view. “The category right now is inundated with fairly transactional messages; it felt like the right time to zag,” explains Barrett.

“The campaign focusses on both riders and driver partners. It emphasis that Uber driver partners are like you and me who have a family and are working,” says Ashwin Dias, general manager, Uber India.

The campaign also seems to be working on the bad press the taxi aggregator has garnered. By showing a responsible driver and a family man, it does the dual job of promising quality service and making Uber driving aspirational.

However, ‘Uber Moves Shankar’ does sound a tad snobbish. But given fierce competition in the space, the ad looks more of an attempt by Uber to lure drivers to its platform with the promise of a life with dignity, and differentiating its fleet of driver partners by showcasing them as educated gentlemen. All in all, a decent attempt.

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