Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Find out how this company thought “inside the box” to deliver an out-of-the-box campaign! [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

April 30, 2021

Traffic jams…

… endless honking…

… and hours lost in front of a traffic light.

These scenarios are common in big and developed cities all over the world, especially in Asia.

According to the Asian Development Blog, traffic congestion is a huge problem for most Asian cities.

One thing this company suggests to help end this 21st century madness?

RIDE-SHARING.

Uber Technologies, Inc., or more commonly known as Uber, is an American technology company that offers services such as ride-hailing, ride-sharing, food and package delivery, couriers, freight transportation, and electric bicycle and motorized scooter rental.

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In November 2017, the company launched a viral digital campaign to demonstrate how “absurd” the traffic situation is in Asia and suggest that ride-sharing―rather than one man in every car―could be part of the solution.

The campaign was called…

Boxes!”

As part of what Uber calls its purpose-driven brand campaigns, the video aimed to give its target audience (riders, drivers, and policy makers) reasons to look at the bigger picture when it comes to ride-sharing:

  • Cars on streets need to be better utilized.
  • Sharing journeys is “a step towards the right direction.”

So… what did Uber do to effectively deliver these messages to viewers of the campaign?

With the help of the Swedish marketing agency, Forsman & Bodenfors, Uber conceptualized a video that would help viewers see what the traffic situation in Asian countries looks like.

(TRIVIA: Forsman & Bodenfors was also the agency behind Volvo Trucks’ The Epic Split Campaign, which we wrote about in a previous “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing” article.)

This was where the idea of a world full of boxes (metaphor to cars) came from.

“Boxes” presented a ridiculous, fast-paced urban environment where people move around in individual cardboard boxes instead of cars.

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The film was shot in Bangkok, Thailand, which was the 12th most congested city in the world according to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard in 2017.

The scorecard also stated that Bangkok drivers spend an average 64.1 hours per year in traffic jams―23% of their overall time and an average of 33% of their time during peak hours.

The scenarios in the video illustrated a world where people move erratically in their own ways to achieve their own interests―in the campaign’s case, getting the best parking spot.

The screening captured all the mess people are willing to endure just for the sake of their own comfort.

By “mess,” we meant it didn’t matter if the actors would bump another cardboard rider, hurt a pedestrian, or overtake one another. As long as they get what they want, they’re good!

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To keep the campaign’s message and spirit alive, Forsman & Bodenfors strategically chose the “The Bare Necessities” song from the movie, “The Jungle Book” because…

Why not?

If you listen to the lyrics of the song, you’ll realize it reflects the message Uber’s campaign was trying to convey!

“When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinking about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you.”

Through the song, Uber was implying that having your own car is not a bare necessity in life. The traffic situation is getting worse because a lot of people are buying cars not out of necessity, but out of want―just for the sake of their own comfort.

Another reason why Uber thought the whole traffic congestion issue was “absurd”:

People always talk about thinking or living outside the box, but they are trapped inside that box (the mindset that they need to own, drive, or ride a car alone).

Pretty ironic, right?

To help solve that issue, Uber invited viewers to “unbox their thinking” by being willing to share a ride with others.

The company said that by doing so:

  • A lot of people will save plenty of time, which they can spend with family or friends.
  • Cities will have more space for schools, hospitals, or parks.
  • Less cars will be used, which could help lessen air and noise pollution in big and developed cities.

Was Uber’s “Boxes” Campaign Effective?

Overall, the campaign team used 1,000 cardboard boxes for the ad and applied video editing techniques to enhance visual appearance. The film was also adapted into 8 languages, with localized call-to-actions (CTAs) about sharing a ride with others via Uber.

Here are the results recorded after the duration of the campaign:

  • In just 2 weeks, “Boxes” gained more than 12 million views on YouTube.
  • The campaign got featured in over 600 articles from different media companies and websites like Ad Age, AdWeek, Branding.news, Ad Forum, etc.
  • The campaign recorded more than 1,000 social media shares and saw over 1,500 user-generated content and ad parodies from social media users.
  • “Boxes” became AdWeek’s “Ad of The Month” in November 2017.
  • During the first quarter of 2018, Uber recorded a 43% increase in its revenue, which meant the campaign helped increase bookings for the company!

Additionally, Uber bagged several awards for this purpose-driven campaign! These include:

  • A Bronze Award at the Eurobest European Advertising Festival in 2017.
  • A Bronze Lion Award for Film Craft at the Cannes 2018.
  • 3 Gold Awards at the Epica Awards in 2018.
  • 1 Gold and 2 Silver Awards at The Golden Egg Award in 2019.

Woah… this shows that the “Boxes” campaign was truly epic!

One of the things you can learn from this ad?

When used right, metaphors help deliver a brand’s message to its target audience. These analogies can also serve as eye-openers

―just like in Uber’s campaign!

According to Esh Ponnadurai, Uber’s Marketing Director for the Asia-Pacific:

“We use boxes as a way to dramatize the traffic solution and highlight some of the funny, absurd, and occasionally annoying situations that we face on a daily basis. We also hint at the need for solutions, of which ride-sharing plays an important role.”

Thinking “inside the box” is also a fun strategy to think outside the box!

Like Uber, you may also bring metaphors to life in your online or offline guerrilla marketing campaigns to help your target market grasp the message you’re trying to convey.

When you successfully execute your campaigns and are able to convince consumers to take your call-to-action…

Awesome! You deserve a honk (not of annoyance but of admiration) and a salute.

Get inspired with Uber’s tactic and apply the insights you’ve learned in creating your own purpose-driven and touching campaign!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!

Cheers,

Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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