Sankalp Dikshit

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. We took a close look at the campaign created by Taproot Dentsu.

"To answer your 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, "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."

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

Uber India's first TVC titled, '#ApniHiGaadi'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.

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

Sanjay GuptaThe forty-six second long ad, which was released, last week on the brand's YouTube page is titled as '#ApniHiGaadi'. Gupta tells afaqs! 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'."

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

Pallavi ChakravartiTaproot 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."

Speaking about the toughest part behind shooting this ad, Chakravarti shares with us, "Playing hide and seek with the rain while on shoot was a logistical challenge. Conceptually, the challenge was putting together an array of situations where there's something for everyone because 'apnapan' means different things to different people."

A toll-free ride or is surge pricing ahead?

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

Nilesh Vaidya

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

Vibha DesaiIn the past, Uber has come up with some popular digital films but does its television outing create the right noise? Nilesh Vaidya, director, Workship Communications, terms the ad as "boring". He says, "I'm sure there are better ways of showing that an Uber cab is a good experience, available for every kind of use. Montage films have come a long way; this one seems to have missed the cab! Building brand loyalty is the correct way to go in my opinion, but this came across as a weak attempt. Especially after the really nice online campaign they ran a few months back."

Speaking about the catchphrase, '#ApniHiGaadi', Vaidya chuckles, "Apne? 'Apne' will not charge me extra when there's a shortage of cabs!"

Vibha Desai, director, Vibha Desai Consulting, is also not very impressed with the TVC. She explains, "The Uber mention doesn't get introduced until the end. We don't know what the ad is talking about. 'We are there for you, we buy you potatoes'; but who are you? I think this ad is only a strategy statement. They feel that since they have done the calculation - it's cheaper to travel by Uber than to keep your own car - so they are trying to replace self-owned cars by Uber and that's the ad objective. Everything from buying 'aaloos', to taking a pregnant woman to the market, or to picking you up at the airport, is really what they are trying to say; but you can't put a strategy in an ad! You have to articulate it in terms of consumer connect and then convert them into an interesting, emotional connect. After this, you put it all in the ad. But this is like some marketing person sitting and writing a strategy statement and the strategy statement becomes the ad. However, you lost two steps in the the process. Hence, I find it confusing and I perceive it to be a wasted opportunity."


Agency- Taproot Dentsu India

Agnello Dias - Chief Creative Officer

Santosh Padhi - Chief Creative Officer

Umesh Shrikhande - Chief Executive Officer

Pallavi Chakravarti - Executive Creative Director

Neeraj Kanitkar- Creative Director

Shashank Lanjekar- Head, Strategic Planning

Almas Ahmad- Planning Director

Ayesha Ghosh - General Manager

Radhika Sabherwal- Senior Account Director

Production- Red Ice Films

Director- Shimit Amin

Music- Roshan Machado

Producer- Gary Grewal, Basab Dasgupta and Priyank Mishra

A look at Uber India's digital ads -

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

Uber's old ad featuring Shah Rukh Khan

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

Uber's old ad titled, 'Uber moves the Aroras'

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

Uber's old ad titled, 'Shalini & Dharam move forward'

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

Uber's old ad, titled 'The Reddy's'

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

Uber's old ad titled, 'Uber moves Shankar'

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

Uber's old titled, 'What moves Mumbai'

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