MOSCOW – In 2016, Uber and Proximity (BBDO Russia Group) launched UberSEARCH — an experimental way to search for missing children in a big city by placing portraits of the missing ones on cars. The campaign resulted in finding Yana, one of the missing children.

A lot of Russian car owners put attention-grabbing visual art on their vehicles, not only to show-off, but also against car thieves. Cars with artworks attract so much attention that in case they get stolen most probably they will be found. But posters of missing children and search campaigns often go unnoticed, while according to the Russian Missing Children Organization, 70% of success in search for missing children depends on finding witnesses.

Uber teamed up with Proximity (BBDO Russia Group) to use car art to attract the attention of potential witnesses and help to find children. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and Missing Children Organization provided cases of three missing children. Their portraits were then placed on Uber partners cars, whose owners volunteered to help to find the children.

“In Russia, photos of missing children are often displayed in very poor quality, and traditional posters have a very limited reach. We asked artists to draw eye-catching artworks based on the photos given by the police, and instead of using airbrush and painting the cars, we used printed car stickers to place these artworks on Uber partners cars. Thus we decreased the time and money spent on production while ensuring the eye-catchiness of the artworks”, said Proximity representative.

Uber also sent out notifications through its app with the information about the UberSEARCH campaign.

In less than 2 hours after the launch the faces of the missing children appeared on the most popular Russian websites, were featured on federal TV channels and kicked off conversations and posts across social media platforms. The campaign helped the police to locate the whereabouts of Yana, one of the three missing children UberSEARCH searched for. Yana was then found and is now safe.

“Our team was very unusual, but it worked! We also received an inquiry from another transportation service to join the project on a volunteer basis”, said Dmitry Vtorov, Head of the Missing Children Organization.

In Russia, the UberSearch campaign ran as UberPOISK, ‘poisk’ being the transliteration of the  Russian ‘поиск’ which means ‘search’.