This week we learned that transportation juggernaut Uber recently held a creative review with Deutsch’s Los Angeles office emerging as the winner.
Details remain somewhat sparse at the moment: a Deutsch representative declined to comment on the news today, and Uber has not responded to our email queries. Multiple parties with direct knowledge of the matter, however, have independently confirmed the win.
This is a somewhat surprising development given that Uber generally promotes itself with below the line work, social media campaigns and collaborations like this one with Hershey and this one with Johnsonville along with some PR stunts involving puppies. The company’s most visible effort on the broadcast advertising front to date has been its comprehensive — and, arguably, successful — attempt to thwart a New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proposal that would have “capped” or frozen the number of city Uber licenses in the interest of placating both Manhattan traffic trends and the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission.
That said, the company has drawn some talent from the agency world; last year, it hired former Leo Burnett Chicago SVP/group creative director Adam Kennedy as its director of brand marketing, though he no longer holds that title. Uber also named BBH London as its first “retained” agency in the U.K. earlier this year.
You may recall that Uber’s primary competitor Lyft — which is currently running a very distant second in the market — launched a “wildcard” review last summer, inviting various small and mid-sized agencies to pitch alongside AOR competitors. Boulder’s Made Movement ended up winning the review and later created the company’s first-ever national broadcast campaign, but most of Lyft’s recent promos have been digital shorts including the celebrity “Undercover Lyft” series.
Sources tell us that Deutsch and Uber currently have a project-based relationship. But the Los Angeles office should debut its first work for the brand in the months ahead in the hopes that its latest new business win will evolve into something more like a traditional AOR partnership.
While many still refer to Uber as a “startup,” it crossed the $50 billion valuation line more than a year ago, with its most recent round of funding placing its overall price tag around $66 billion. The company also recently ended a long-running battle with the Chinese government by conceding to a merger with “fierce rival” Didi Chuxing.
It’s unclear at this time which agencies beyond Deutsch were involved in the review.