Abid Hussain Barlaskar

An ad that mentions Uber, but not made by Uber

The ad for Guesture, a platform that provides co-living spaces, makes mention of cab-hailing app Uber. It also mentions tech companies like Infosys, TCS, HCl, Siemens, among others.

Uber or Ola? Despite the cab hailing service category’s duopolistic nature in India, one of the players is set to become the category identifier. A situation when the brand becomes synonymous with the category itself. Like Bisleri for packaged drinking water, Maggi for packaged noodles, Xerox for photocopiers, Surf for detergents, Sintex for water tanks and Mobil for engine oil. So is it Uber or Ola for cab-hailing? Uber might be taking the crown.

Uber was mentioned in an ad film for Guesture, a Bengaluru based startup launched in 2015. Gesture, like OYO Life, NestAway, etc. provides co-living spaces and is targeted at working professionals living in non-native cities. The ad features a guy in the back seat of a car. He’s taking an hour long ride back home. He has managed to find decent accommodation in the city but it's an hour away from his office. After trying out various means of transport, he reveals that he has started taking an Uber. So why specifically mention ‘Uber’ when the ad could have easily passed it off by just mentioning ‘a cab’. It doesn’t end there. The ad’s copy also rides on the most common conversation around Uber, that of being both an indispensable and a not-so-pocket-friendly service at the same time.

The ads specifically target at employees of various organisations located in Electronic City Bengaluru. The various versions of the film begin with different copies like – ‘how long have you worked at TCS?’, ‘ how long have you worked at Siemens?’, ‘how long have you worked at HCL?’, ‘ how long have you worked at Infosys?’, etc. Spot the ‘Uber’ mention in the following ads.

Guesture definitely gains from riding on the popular conversation but what does Uber get out of it? The brand is definitely placed in the right sort of environment - city mobility coupled with a millennial customer who is also a professional. The 'not-so-pocket-friendly' bit might be unfriendly territory but that’s part of popular conversation.

Also Read: Bisleri means Bisleri, not 'any packaged water'...

Expert take:

Communications consultant Karthik Srinivasan finds the Guesture ad interesting and fairly convincing too. “No matter what the problems are with the brand, Uber is a verb now for cabs/taxi, much like Google for search, YouTube for video and WhatsApp for messaging. Even when you are considering an Ola, your friends may ask you if you are taking an 'Uber', when they simply mean 'cab',” Srinivasan says.

Karthik Srinivasan
Karthik Srinivasan

“Guesture doesn't compete with Uber, and the brand name is used only to denote a cab ride. A 'cab' nowadays signifies the black and yellow taxis that are outdated and from another generation. The guy is sitting inside a 'clean'ish looking cab and that is best described as 'Uber' to let the viewers relate to the situation,” he elaborates.

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