Staff Reporters
Mar 26, 2018

Uber sells to Grab: A look back at the brand's SEA ads

As the ride-sharing company sells its Southeast Asia operations to Grab, we take a look at how the brand tried to appeal to consumers.

Uber sells to Grab: A look back at the brand's SEA ads

As it did in China in 2016, Uber has decided that if it can't beat a locally grown competitor, it's better to sell to it. In news that broke over the weekend, Grab will acquire Uber's operations in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Grab, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.

While Uber's marketing efforts probably had little to do with its failure to vanquish its well-funded, Singapore-based foe in Southeast Asia, we thought it would be fun to look back on how the brand did try to appeal to consumers. It's not a long list, but it shows some originality. We look forward to Grab's future efforts.

November 2017: Uber takes on gridlocked Asian cities in new campaign

By far the brand's largest effort was a campaign by Forsman & Bodenfors specifically targetting Jakarta, Bangkok and other traffic-plagued Asian cities. A day before launching the Asia-wide campaign, Uber posted satellite image-style animations on its Facebook pages in several key markets, showing those Asian cities in their full glory of criss-crossing highways teeming with vehicles. The main TVC was shot in Bangkok, the 12th most congested city in the world, according to at least on ranking. The campaign was well-received by two creatives in an edition of Campaign's Private View.

November 2017: Uber 'chopes' to highlight parking problems in Singapore

In connection with the above campaign, Uber created a tribute to the Singaporean cultural practice of 'Choping'—the use of tissue packets (but sometimes also umbrellas) to reserve seats at hawker stalls. Uber's Singapore division worked with BBH, creating fake-news Facebook posts that ended up being discussed on local news and traffic update sites.

March 2018: Uber celebrates its women drivers

For International Women's Day this year, Uber marked the occassion by shining the spotlight on its women drivers. Developed in-house, a film featured female Singapore drivers, including a pregnant woman, that the company sought out through a questionnaire. 

February 2017: Uber partners with Canon for SEA campaign

Uber and Canon teamed on a campaign celebrating the hidden gems of some of Southeast Asia’s most populous cities. The #HiddenCities campaign documented the most off-the-grid places in Singapore, Kuala Lumper, Manila, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City. The locations were found from analysing Uber drop-off points in each city and additional research. Then, working with leading photographers, in partnership with Canon and using its cameras, the brand documented the sites through striking photography that it hosted on a purpose-built microsite.


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