Why Uber Eats had to ‘do something’ to evolve beyond takeaway delivery

Mumbrella's Kalila Welch recently spoke with Uber Eats marketers Andy Morley and Channa Goonasekara, and with Special Group strategist Celia Garforth to discuss the long journey Uber and its creative partners undertook to reposition the business for a new age of delivery, and the underlying confidence the team held that the risk would pay off.

Uber Eats last week made its first major departure from its five-year running “Tonight I’ll Be Eating” (TIBE) tagline, launching with a new brand platform that the food (and grocery and alcohol) delivery service hopes will drive home the message of its expanded offering to Australian consumers.

Despite the success of TIBE, as Uber Eats ANZ director of marketing Andy Morley says, the delivery platform knew it needed to “do something” to evolve its platform as it ushered in the new age of delivery beyond the takeaway category

As early as 12 months ago, the business began to seriously consider ways to embed this offering into its positioning as its grocery and alcohol offering continued to expand.

“We knew that for us to shift consumer perception for the long term and really reposition our brand, we would need a new platform that would firmly make a statement around what the brand is becoming and what the product is starting to offer,” explains Morley.

The new campaign launched with a 60 second spot during Nine’s broadcast of the Australian Open, timed to hit the many eyeballs fixed to Australia’s “tentpole” sporting event just as Australians settle back into their post-holiday rhythms.

Starring Kardashians alum, Kris and Kendall Jenner, alongside Australian stars Abbie Chatfield, Shannon Noll and Mark Philippoussis, the TVC throws out a number of tongue-in-cheek suggestions that users can (and cannot) order on the Uber Eats app.

The road to developing the “Get almost, almost anything” platform was not a straight one. Already equipped with a proven, and well-recognised platform in TIBE, Uber Eats and its creative partners Special Group experimented at length with new ways to shift their messaging without losing the brand voice the team had worked hard to perfect.

The new platform’s predecessor, TIBE was first borne from the freshly minted Special Group and Uber Eats ANZ creative partnership in late 2017, and has since been a salient message in market over a multitude of iterations, featuring local and international stars from the likes of the Wiggles and Simon Cowell, to the Irwin family and Paris Hilton.

Special Group APAC head of strategy, Celia Garforth, describes attempts to tack on the new grocery and alcohol messages onto existing platforms, or even separating the grocery platform entirely.

“There were various kinds of architectures explored whether that was kind of vertical by vertical, but there’s not really all that many efficiencies if you do it that way,” she says.

While proud of the work that had been done with TIBE, in the end, Garforth describes the Special team as “massive advocates” for a new platform, recognising the limits of playing with the current executional construct.

“What we found in other markets like Japan and Taiwan, where we tried to push TIBE really to its limit to carry new messages, it actually almost broke the executional construct, because it’s quite a tight format. It’s not just two celebrities coming together, it’s a very specific, creative construct within an ad format that doesn’t allow you much wiggle room in terms of carrying extra strategic messages or brand news.”

Creating a new platform would give Uber Eats more wiggle room to align with new business priorities, whilst also carrying over key elements of brand equity.

Uber Eats senior marketing manager and brand lead, Channa Goonasekara, adds that Uber was “quite critical” of Special Group as the partnership worked through developing the new platform.

“We wanted it to be an evolution of what the brand’s built over the last six to seven years in ANZ, rather than a complete revolution,” he shares, “and it was really nice to be able to retain a lot of those elements of TIBE that have shaped our tone of voice here in this market.

“Strategically, we were obviously on board with carrying through as much as we could,” laughs Garforth.

Morley adds: “We’ve kept the humor, we’ve kept the fun in our tone of voice, with the cultural gags and the cultural insights that create that extra level of kind of fun and cleverness for the consumer. That’s why we think it’s connecting so well with people straightaway.”

Mumbrella spoke to Uber Eats Channa Goonasekara (left) and Andy Morley (centre), and agency partner Special Group’s Celia Garforth (right) about the strategy behind brands new platform

Asked if there is potential for the “Get almost, almost anything” platform to be adopted in major international markets, like the United States, as was TIBE, Garforth says “never say never”.

“The trajectory of “Tonight I’ll be eating” was never planned. It was just for Australia and New Zealand. Then it was taken to other markets, because in Japan and Taiwan they were struggling to crack something that was working for them.”

In what seems to be a positive sign for the future of the platform, its has already been picked up in Taiwan, with production on a new campaign already underway.

“The platform definitely could translate into other markets,” adds Morley. “The product truth and consumer truth is definitely universal, so it’ll be really interesting.”

On whether Uber Eats felt there was an element of risk in committing to a new platform, Morley responds “I don’t know that we feel risk”.

“We have such a fantastic relationship with a Special Group that’s been borne on risk-taking over five years. What we’ve learned over that time is that all of the success that we’ve had has been built off making brave moves and holding hands together.”

“Creatively, it was less about risk, but more about ‘how do we how do we live up to the platform that we built?'” offers Garforth, acknowledging the pressure the agency felt to create something as strong as TIBE.

Goonasekara adds: “Get almost, almost anything could pivot into so many different new ideas. I think, it’s a really creatively fertile space, and between Special and Uber, we definitely have the confidence.”

“Just being at Southern Cross station the other day in Melbourne and sort of seeing a full station domination, you can see that our breath of assets as it’s really launched with a bang.”

While the positive reception of the campaign so far has been encouraging for the creative partners, the team is most excited about the potential to continue building on the platform in the future.

“If you think back to when tonight I’ll be eating initially launched it was definitely not our best version of the campaign, and it got better and better over time,” admits Garforth. “We’ve launched this at such a high bar and knowing from experience, it will get better and better through iterations, through learning. Once people get comfy, once the general public gets comfortable with the platform, that’s when you can really start playing with it.”

Despite his enthusiasm for the next phase of Uber Eats’ and Special’s creative partnership, Morley hints that we may very well see the return of “Tonight I’ll be eating” down the track.

“It’s such an iconic campaign that we definitely are reserving the right to potentially bring it back in different forms in the future.”

“We know that it’s not the primary campaign and the primary platform that we need to focus on at the moment, because the biggest job for Uber is actually repositioning the brand. But, we definitely didn’t go into the Paris Irwin campaign thinking it was going to be the last, and we still probably are still really open to what we could do with TIBE in the future”.


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