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GrabTaxi courts agencies as ‘hyper local’ cab-hailing app seeks regional brand consistency

GrabTaxi ad in the Philippines

GrabTaxi ad in the Philippines

Southeast Asian cab-hailing phone app GrabTaxi is scouting for advertising agencies.

The three-year old company’s regional marketing head Cheryl Goh told Mumbrella at Festival of Media Asia that having the used a “hyper local” approach to marketing to date, GrabTaxi is now looking to build on the common thread that runs through the brand across the region.

The app is in use in multiple cities in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia and plans to launch in Surabaya this weekend, its third Indonesian city. GrabTaxi launched in Ilo Ilo in the Philippines a fortnight ago.

Cheryl Goh

Cheryl Goh

“Now that we are a certain size, we are looking for a greater level of consistency in our marketing. In the coming few months, we want to amplify the essence that unifies the brand.”

In Malaysia, GrabTaxi is still known by its original name, MyTeksi, although the logos used around the region have been the same.

Goh said: “We haven’t rebranded MyTeksi [to GrabTaxi] as the name is locally relevant. But at times we think that it could be advantageous, for instance when hiring talent from around the region, to use the GrabTaxi name consistently across Asia.”

Advertising has been done mostly in-house, although in Malaysia the company has started working with IPG Mediabrands’ content agency Ensemble. It is the first agency the firm has worked with.

GrabTaxi is now exploring agency options market by market, Goh says.

“The way that we have communicated since we launched has been very open, honest and authentic. We make mistakes, we sometimes spell things wrongly, we say a lot of different things in different markets.”

“In the Philippines, the country head is a runway model, so the messaging has tended to be very sexy and hip. Whereas in Malaysia, which is predominantly a Muslim country, the tone is quirky and social. We’re very local in our approach.”

“We are looking for agencies, but we are trying ‘dating’ right now, as we’re so used to handling our own brand internally,” she said.

Goh has herself featured in print ads for the brand.

If I start to look sexy book a taxi

The marketer says she is looking for agencies that are particularly “responsive” and data- and ROI-driven.

“When I send pitch documents to an agency and people don’t respond quickly, I know they’re not right for us,” she said. “It’s very easy to tell who are the right partners for us.”

“I look out for people who like our product and use it. They need to be able to sell the brand because they love it themselves,” she said.

GrabTaxi was launched as MyTeksi in Malaysia by entrepreneur Anthony Tan in June 2012. The free smartphone app enables passengers to book a cab through any taxi company, regardless of location, giving information on the route and fare.

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