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This is a self-funded case study using our Advertising Testing solution.
Uber Eats’ ‘Tonight, I’ll be Eating…’ platform has been a phenomenal success story. Launched in Australia in 2017, the campaign — produced by Special Group — pairs together unlikely celebrities in surreal settings. Although a costly venture, it’s been a key factor behind Uber Eats’ eye-watering growth – carving out a fun personality for the brand while importantly having a simple message about the service at its core.
Given its global success (the campaign had been localized in 6 separate countries by 2020) it made sense to take the next step and attempt to replicate this fame in the most lucrative market of them all — the U.S.
Starting off with a bang by pitting Mark Hamill against Sir Patrick Stewart, Uber Eats could’ve been forgiven for failing to top this epic battle of two iconic franchise leads. However, its latest instalment may have done just that, featuring collaborating musicians Elton John and Lil Nas X sitting atop children’s carnival rides — representing their respective hit soundtracks. The irritable Englishman attempts to bring his American counterpart up-to-speed on British lingo.
Today, we’ll be Testing… Uber Eats’ latest ‘Rides’ campaign using our three C’s framework:
Like we’ve seen previously with Snoop Dogg’s remixed jingle for Just Eat and Robert De Niro’s Goodfellas reprisal for Warburtons, celebrities – especially when mixed with a healthy dose of the abstract – can be highly effective mechanisms for grabbing attention.
This was certainly the case for ‘Rides’, with the top-shelf celebrities being the unsurprising stand out of the ad for over half of viewers. A similar proportion found the quirky narrative highly distinctive and original.
Overall, response to both celebrities was favorable – with the witty dialogue and subtle references to their respective biggest hits (a rocket for Elton and horse for Lil Nas X) evoking feelings of amusement and excitement.
Despite the ‘Tonight, I’ll be Eating…’ campaign not having had as long to bed-in in the U.S. relative to other markets, connection back to Uber Eats was still very good. Not only did the unconventional storyline align with the brand’s already well-established personality, but other recognizable cues such as the delivery bag helped further solidify this.
At the heart of the ‘Tonight, I’ll be Eating…’ idea exists a simple message around the wide variety of food able to be ordered through the app – ensuring the brand’s role remained central to the story despite the gravitational pull of high-profile celebrities. By using the iconic tagline to illustrate what the characters were eating, it served as the trigger behind the subsequent amusing dialogue — giving the brand a key structural role.
Celebrity cameos offer brands more than simply just helping advertising stand out and get noticed. When done well, the positive associations and feelings attached to the individual can transfer back onto the brand itself – enhancing pre-disposition.
While Elton John and Lil Nas X could’ve easily distracted from the underlying message, this wasn’t the case. While some less familiar with the Uber Eats brand and celebrities featured were a little confused and taken aback by the quirky production, the majority were left with perceptions of convenience and the brand offering a wide range of cuisines.
The campaign’s successful transference to the U.S. wasn’t all that surprising given its strong track record. Not only is this a testament to casting decisions and clever writing, but also the flexibility and emotional appeal offered by the ‘Tonight, I’ll be Eating…’ platform. The simple and universally transferrable idea has all the hallmarks of a campaign with true global potential.
Unlike the other successful celebrity partnerships highlighted earlier, the real beauty of ‘Tonight, I’ll be Eating…’ is that its success isn’t tied to an individual celebrity. This has a two-fold effect — the brand doesn’t risk being held hostage to one person (both in terms of cost and flexibility over time), but also that it keeps viewers anticipating the next installment – “what celebrity will be next?!”. As passionate communications experts, we’re also left asking the same question.