R/GA's Sydney office to lead Uber's social footprint across APAC

28 January 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

R/GA Sydney is now the epicentre of Uber’s social media marketing activity across Australia, Japan and Taiwan, following a global partnership between the two firms. The contract focuses on Uber’s flagship business segments – Uber Rides and Uber Eats. 

The global partnership aims to reassert Uber's brand after a year of grappling with pandemic-induced losses. The plan is to emphasise Uber’s ethos of purpose and community building – values that are expected to take hold in the new normal.

R/GA is officially Uber’s ‘social agency of record’ – or partner in charge of social media marketing. Armed with unique capabilities in content studios, media science, and digital expertise: the branding and innovation consultancy will focus on data-driven insights to “deliver breakthrough creativity and improve effectiveness for all marketing activity across Uber’s digital and social platforms,” per a statement.

R/GA's Sydney office to lead Uber’s social footprint across APAC

R/GA’s global team will coordinate with offices on the ground in cities worldwide – key target markets for Uber Rides and Uber Eats. In Asia Pacific (APAC), the markets in focus are Australia, Japan and Taiwan – all of which will be managed via the Sydney office.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with one of the world’s most essential mobility and food delivery businesses to deliver cutting-edge work across our global network,” said Tuomas Peltoniemi – R/GA Managing Director for APAC.

The ride ahead

No doubt, the task is a challenging one. Uber was hit hard by the sudden lifestyle changes induced by Covid-19 last year. Lockdowns kept commutes at a minimum, while infection risks deterred any kind of mobility within cities. Uber Rides – the company’s biggest revenue segment by some distance – took a 75% blow to global bookings year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020 as a result. Earnings for the same period fell by a devastating 90%. 

Yet, the tech giant managed to come through the year – relying on a strategy of cost cuts to remain profitable on an adjusted basis, while also keeping service steady in urban centres that came out of lockdown. “Over the past year, we have focused our efforts on keeping our cities moving and supporting those who needed it the most,” noted Travis Freeman, Director for global media & social at Uber.

APAC – excluding China – has been a key part of this strategy, with relatively low infection rates enabling early lockdown lifts and better mobility. Indeed, Uber earnings in APAC actually jumped by 30% to nearly $360 million in the second quarter of last year, placing it among the company's priority markets. 

Another bright spot globally was Uber Eats – a segment that more than doubled its revenues to over $1 billion in the second quarter of last year, fueled by a general boom in online commerce during lockdown. “Uber Rides and Uber Eats have always played a critical role in many people’s lives, and their importance has only been elevated through lockdowns and the world coming to a standstill the past year,” said Peltoniemi.

That being said, the time for sub-par operations might well be coming to an end. Last year ended with vaccine strategy announcements from key markets worldwide. A healthier economy, more movement and better earnings are all realities appearing on the horizon. “As the world starts to open up, Uber will help us get moving again,” declared Peltoniemi. 

According to Freeman, R/GA is well suited to help Uber begin this next chapter. “Now that we’re slowly entering a new phase, we need a partner who can support us with helping cities recover. R/GA not only has a proven track record at a global scale, but their team also reflects the diversity of our riders, eaters, and earners.