Uber’s latest campaign is precisely the opposite of what one may surmise the company is all about. The ride-hailing behemoth, in a counterintuitive message, is asking people to stay home. Of course, these are not normal times, and the message of unity in sheltering, as opposed to moving around, illustrates a level of responsibility for a company that continues to work its way out from under a problematic history.
The campaign itself came from Wieden + Kennedy, driven by the creative leadership of Uber, which just added Wunderman Thompson’s former evp, executive creative director, Danielle Trivisonno Hawley, to its ranks. Currently based in Seattle, Hawley takes on the role of global executive creative director, leading the brand’s internal creative teams, at a time when the company’s business model, under the leadership of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, continues to morph and find its way forward.
“[There is an opportunity] to change up the model. Certainly, I think in light of [Covid-19], that word of reset or refresh, or thinking about things in a new way, is going to be top of mind for everybody,” said Hawley, who was CCO of the Americas at Possible pre-Wunderman Thompson. “But I think that’s what’s exciting to me about not only this time, but Uber as a company is that no one pivots like Uber.”
Despite reports of losses totaling close to $3 billion and layoffs of 3,700 full-time employees this week (about 14% of its workforce), the company is finding opportunities in expanding Uber Eats and leaving markets where the delivery service wasn’t making a profit.
Hawley reports to Uber vp of marketing Thomas Ranese, and crosses into several areas at the company, including small internal creative teams in New York and San Francisco that interface with performance (essentially a de facto digital marketing group), brand experience and campaign creative teams. Though Hawley’s group will do some heavy lifting on internal and external communications, Uber will continue its relationship with partners like W+K and Anomaly on branding work.
“I’m excited to partner with both those agencies, and have grown up respecting [the work and] what they do,” said Hawley, who has more than 17 years of agency experience, most in the Seattle market at agencies including Zaaz, (which became Possible and folded into Wunderman Thompson) and the now-defunct shop Creature.
According to Hawley, having such a run on the agency side—similarly to the likes of Apple’s Nick Law and Tor Myhren, and Facebook’s Andrew Keller, for example—can be beneficial in bridging all marketing worlds.
“The advertising industry has been changing for the better part of the last decade,” said Hawley. “But I do think that the common ground [is] that the people who have lived agency life can bring [experience] to the brand side that is invaluable.”
In the end, however, it’s all about change, both for Hawley and Uber, as the brand navigates its way through a time unlike any other.
“This is the kind of opportunity that scared me in the best way and got me out of that comfort zone,” said Hawley. “I could have done [the Wunderman Thompson] job for another 15 years and loved it. But [I have] the opportunity to take one giant leap and trust that all those things that I learned in those 11 years at Wunderman Thompson with those amazing people can be used for good. And that’s incredibly exciting.”