Uber Thinks Inside the Box in Its Big New Ad About Car-Clogged Cities

A focus on the crushing traffic jams in Asia

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Traffic jams in Asian cities are horrific, and only getting worse. Uber latches on to that fact with a big new brand commercial in which it proposes ridesharing as a key part of the solution.

A new 80-second spot called “Boxes,” from Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, illustrates the problem through metaphor. It shows drivers tooling around in cardboard boxes rather than automobiles—the better to humanize the devastating crush of traffic and the emotional toll of such a physical problem, while also keeping things lighthearted.

See the spot here:

“Boxes,” which is a bit reminiscent of Saturn’s classic “Sheet Metal” spot from 2002, was shot in Bangkok with around 200 extras. The soundtrack is “Bare Necessities” from the 1967 Disney film The Jungle Book.

The spot is based around research that Uber commissioned that said drivers in nine of Asia’s biggest cities are stuck in traffic jams for 52 minutes every day and spend a 26 more minutes looking for parking. Almost four in 10 car owners have considered ditching their car over the last year, the survey added.

“If the situation in Asia’s cities continues like this, they risk coming to a complete standstill in only a few years,” said Brooks Entwistle, chief business officer for Asia Pacific at Uber. “Ridesharing can be an important compliment to public transport and private cars when reducing congestion as well as freeing up city space used today for parking spots. By putting more people into fewer cars, we can unlock our cities and their full potential. But it requires that we all work together.”

Uber also created a new site, unlockingcities.com, around the research.

Separately, Uber has launched a review seeking its first global creative agency partner and has started talks with media agencies for an unspecified assignment, Adweek reported yesterday.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.