Australian Open Ambush – Uber Eats, Tennis Australia & Channel Nine

The Australian Open is the single biggest television sports broadcast of the year in Australia and Uber Eats set out to stand out from the advertising and sponsor marketing clutter and grab the attention of the huge national audience by blending in with post-ad break spots that replicated the event so effectively that initially viewers thought they had returned to watching the tennis broadcast only to find they were actually Uber Eats ads.


Territory: Australia


Agency: The Glue Society, Special Group & Revolver/Will O’Rourke



Since Uber Eats launched its ‘Tonight I’ll Be Eating…’ campaign in Australia in 2017 the marketing platform and the brand had been steadily gaining momentum as it sought to normalise food delivery service – particularly for dinner.


For the second year of the campaign the objective was to ‘stake a claim to category leadership and position Uber Eats as an iconic, Australian culture-shaping brand.


So its Australian Open broadcast sponsor campaign with Channel Nine set out to target major Australian cities in metro areas where Uber Eats is widely available timed to leverage ‘the dinner occasion’ (the prime growth moment for people to use/try Uber Eats) and engage all demographic segments and appeal beyond the traditional Uber Eats phone/app ordering age group (millennials) who are already comfortable using Uber Eats by creating an impactful audience experience.


The idea was that through live media placements which lacked of conventional repetitive rhythm of traditional sponsor spots, the campaign would cut through, be disruptive and generate ongoing attention and high impact throughout the two week tournament.





Briefed to inject ordering food through Uber Eats deeper into Australian culture, the multi-agency marketing team partnered with both the Australian Open and its broadcaster Channel Nine with the ambition of own this major Australian sporting and cultural event.


Why the Australian Open? Because with a national audience of 13 million it is the single biggest sports event in Australia (and all of Australasia): one which sees the whole country – an audience crossing all demographic segments – to a stop.


The initiative was based on the insight that television viewers have become so conditioned to know exactly what to expect from sports broadcasts that the tournament could be disrupted by disrupting the television coverage itself.


The campaign idea was a brand broadcast integration which served up a 14-film series of as-live, on-air television commercials that replicated the tennis event so effectively that viewers first thought the players, umpires and fans were ‘breaking the fourth wall’ before realising they were actually adverts.


The team set out to stand out by blending in: blurring the line between broadcast and advertising to create an (almost) seamless experience.


The brand negotiated the integration of the previously separate ground and broadcast sponsorships and then create spots which were identical to the tennis broadcast coverage.


Each of the 14 pre-shot commercials was created to make the viewers think they were returning to the broadcast coverage of the match which had been under way before the ads and then once consumers were drawn back into the match, suddenly the coverage twisted into a player, umpire, fan, or camera crew member ordering dinner via Uber Eats.


The team persuaded Tennis Australia to let the brand use the actual tournament broadcast crew, cameras, equipment, officials and commentators, plus the official broadcast graphics, sponsor logos and to shoot the spots inside Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena court for the very first time and persuaded Australian TV network Nine to let a brand deliver in real-time with live ad placements within its live broadcast.



The campaign attracted some complaints that it wasn’t clearly identifiable as advertising, but was cleared by the Australian Ad Standards Panel which found it did not breach the industry code.



Outcome / Results


The campaign gained national and international media attention with marketing industry press proclaiming it ‘A modern take on product placement’ (New Daily) and ‘A tennis ad game changer’ (Daily Telegraph).


The campaign also picked up a number of awards around the world including a Silver Lion for Entertainment in Sport at Cannes Lions 2019.


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