Herd MSL Campaign Spotlight: Uber Eats’ Flying Pickle

By Bryony Czujko

The Challenge: Reset consumer thinking to launch a new vertical
Uber Eats’ celebrity-studded campaigns meant they’re synonymous with delivering restaurant food. 

But Aussies didn’t realise everything from apples to pet food and vodka became available via the app in 2021, with awareness of Uber’s “Grocery, Convenience and Alcohol” offering at just 35%. 

In the words of Uber Eats’ Head of Marketing, David Griffiths:

“It’s handicapped us in terms of people thinking Uber is only for food… Our job as marketers is to reset that thinking, transform all of that brand association with online food delivery and take it into groceries and alcohol.”

To launch its new Grocery and Alcohol vertical, Uber Eats tasked Herd MSL with delivering an integrated PR platform that would: 

    • Position the brand as the ‘home of grocery’, raising awareness of its new vertical with consumers based in key metro regions – with a key focus on NSW and VIC
    • Generate national talkability – land 30+ pieces of earned media coverage 
    • Build brand fame with 90%+ favourable coverage
    • Lift Uber Eats’ brand reputation score MOM (Oct-Nov) on Meltwater by 3pts.

Unlike ‘Tonight I’ll Be Eating’, there were no celebrities to drive us home – all we had was an aggressive timeline and some smart thinking in our back-pocket. 

 

The Insight & Strategy : Fear of having people over

Our key audience group were metro-based 18-35 YOs.  As the country emerged from lockdown, they were ready to entertain again – but nervous about returning to normality. With visitor restrictions lifted, more guests meant more unexpected situations – namely at the dinner table.

Forget FOMO, our research uncovered a new cultural phenomenon, FOHPO – Fear Of Having People Over.

 

The Idea: Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it’s a giant, flying pickle

With the majority of the adult population ‘in a pickle’ over hosting dinner parties, we made Uber Eats synonymous with on-demand groceries by coupling a strong news hook with a show-stopping stunt.

Picture the scene: 11am and peak time at Australia’s most iconic beach, Bondi. Surfers, joggers and families look up to a mysterious flying object as it breaks cloud cover. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… it’s an enormous flying pickle. 

Uber Eats would take to the skies on National Pickle Day (14 November), flying a seven-metre-long, 350kg salty delicacy across Sydney’s famous beaches and iconic skyline.

The scene would be set for a simple message and CTA to encourage trial:

In a pickle? Uber Eats will get you out of it – with a vast selection of grocery, convenience and alcohol products, all delivered instantly, with the click of a button (and 50% off groceries for 48 hours via a unique code).

 

Execution:  Helping Aussies get out of a pickle when hosting friends

While the aerial stunt wowed onlookers on the ground, the broader earned campaign was meticulously designed to maximise interest amongst broadcast, radio and online media outlets through a robust data story and set of platform-specific assets.

Robust third-party research that highlighted the FOHPO phenomenon and content were critical to shaping a legitimate story that could land across news, lifestyle and social feeds.

“They say pigs can’t fly, but apparently in Bondi, pickles can…” [Peter Overton, 9 News]

Launching on National Pickle Day (14 November), the flying pickle stunt was the centrepiece of a multi-pronged PR execution, designed to create multiple opportunities for different media:

  • Stunt on National Pickle Day:
      • Sydney metro and national newsdesks captured the stunt live.
      • On-site interviews with Lucas Groeneveld, Regional GM, Retail and Grocery.
      • Asset package dispatched within 2 hours to hit evening bulletins.
      • Dedicated influencer content from Alright, Hey! supported by Owned coverage.
  • FOHPO news story:
      • Research-led story delivered via national sell-in focusing on consumer lifestyle, food and drink, radio.
      • Pre-pitched first-run online exclusive with Mail Online for maximum reach.
      • Commentary from psychologist Sabina Read helped to secure higher volume and quality interview opportunities.
      • Radio interviews plus pre-recorded audio grabs for blanket radio coverage, picked up by the likes of KIIS, Nova FM, Gold, Mix, SBS, 3AW.
  • Promotion Pitching:
      • Maximised 50% limited time offer via dedicated media pitches driving urgency before the deal ran out.
  • Strategic B2B profiling:
      • Secured high impact media trade interviews for Lucas Groeneveld, Regional GM, Retail and Grocery, with Grocery and FMCG industry trade, solidifying Uber’s position in the market.

 

Impact & Results: Pushing the boundaries to deliver brand fame and exceptional business results

The Flying Pickle demonstrates how the power of a strong news hook, coupled with a showstopping stunt can deliver transformational business results.

See what we mean for yourself…

Earned media results:

    • Coverage KPIs exceeded by 565% (233 pieces of media coverage vs. KPI of 35), with a reach of 87.2million
    • 82% tier 1 outlets, with highlights including a 5+ minute segment on Sky News, TV coverage on 9 News across two days, a national syndication on news.com.au, The Courier Mail, Mail Online and coverage on ABC’s primetime entertainment show ‘The Gruen Transfer’
    • Strategic in-depth interviews conducted with B2B sites including RetailBiz, Convenience World and Mumbrella, cementing Uber Eats’ vision as the home of groceries
    • 95% positive sentiment across print, TV, online and social coverage 
    • 89% key message penetration across print, TV, online and social coverage
    • 63% of coverage appeared in Uber Eats’ key markets: NSW, VIC or nationally

Target audience outcomes:

    • Awareness: 29% increase in coverage clips for Uber Eats (Month on month: October to November)
    • New Customer acquisition: 44% of orders on 14-15 November were from first time grocery users, demonstrating the two key days of earned media coverage directly contributed to consideration and conversion

Business outcomes:

    • Brand reputation: Reputation score KPI exceeded by 266% (increase of 11 points MOM vs KPI of 3 points from October to November) on Meltwater
    • Sales impact: 
      • First orders were up 200% WoW
      • Gross bookings were up 242% WoW
      • The average basket size was 74% up from the previous week
      • One merchant had a 420% WoW gross booking uplift

Keep your eyes peeled for the next pickle announcement. The pickle lives on!

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Herd MSL

Herd MSL is an ANZ public relations and integrated communications agency that provides strategic counsel and creative thinking. We champion our clients’ interests through fearless and insightful campaigns that engage multiple perspectives and holistic thinking to build influence and deliver impact.

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