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Growth Marketing Agency: Zero-to-$1.2B Unicorn Case Study

Engineering Growth via Paid Media for Gorillas, the Ultrafast Mobile Delivery App


Paid Media = Global Growth Catalyst

Gorillas is FAST. It became a “unicorn” ($1B valuation) in 9 months and in that time delivered over 16M+ orders in less than 15 minutes. The ultrafast delivery app launched in 50+ global cities in under 18 months – including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, New York, Milan and Munich. And Gorillas set its sights on US launch advertising, specifically in New York.

As any startup knows, new market launches take blood sweat and tears. It takes infrastructure, logistics, hiring, development and – hardest of all – new customer acquisition. Paid media is mandatory for new customer acquisition in new markets. Known for speedy turnaround and nimble teams, Gorillas tapped Criterion Global to guide its global growth strategy to the US market.


US Launch Advertising + Global Growth Marketing Agency for Gorillas

Growth Marketing Agency Measurement

KPIs + Media Calibration 

Apple’s iOS14.5 torpedoed mobile app measurement. Buy-side CPMs on iOS jumped 49% and 30% on Android (1). Search CPCs for “grocery delivery” ballooned +341% in the same period.

It was clear: marketing success couldn’t be confined to a 6” screen, or limited to AI-enabled universal app download campaigns. Still, none of Gorillas’ competitors were running TV. And static OOH and guerilla were largely overlooked.

NYC Market Realities

Life in NY is lived “IRL.” New Yorkers walk, which for grocery shoppers of all stripes, means the dreaded schlep home (with ice cream… as it’s melting). Each grocery store trip takes 71 mins, on avg. And we go 1.6x per week.(2).

By contrast, Gorillas is fast: with a typical delivery time of 10 minutes. New Yorkers love fast.

In post-COVID New York, we saw an opportunity to show New Yorkers, through the power of power of guerilla advertising, that life is better spent outside the checkout line. We were there when New Yorkers where grabbing morning coffee, riding the subway, at movie theaters, watching NY1, listening to music, streaming their favorite shows, and walking the streets. Gorillas became part of the fabric of everyday life.

Hyperlocal Ad Targeting + Precision

To ensure smooth customer acquisition – and speedy delivery times – we had to advertise within the app’s ultra-precise geo-fenced delivery circumference.

The US Launch Advertising Strategy

To punch above our weight and gain customer acquisition, we used a disciplined 3-tier US launch advertising strategy that made innovative use of channels our 6 competitor apps neglected.

Geofencing is fairly easy in digital. But programmatic CPMs were inflated by the competitor “arms race.” Media channels were handpicked for 27 NYC micro-neighborhoods. All tactics were hyperlocal and geo-precise, including, particularly, traditional channels:

At the end of the day, grocery shopping is a factor of basic needs: The bananas. The ice cream. The right toilet paper. Using Gorillas’ in- app data, we showcased each neighborhood’s top-selling items neighborhood-by-neighborhood, block by block, reflecting the heart and soul of NYC.

A Bushwick influencer and an Upper East Side family have different grocery carts. But every New Yorker needs to save time.

Our campaign highlighted this value. Using in-app data, media showcased each neighborhood’s top purchased items in static formats. This required special coordination to match messaging to each neighborhood’s specific boundaries.

To make this launch succeed, we had to win NYers trust over competing apps with sweet promo offers. To win orders, save NYers time, and earn NYers’ love, we prioritized novel, creative, custom tactics to differentiate Gorillas from generic (but better funded) competitors. To show that Gorillas “gets” the pace of New York, as growth marketing agency we turned to unexpected opportunities:

  • Caffeinated potential customers with branded, QR-coded coffee sleeves at hand-picked neighborhood coffeeshops
  • Movie theater cinema preview screens for major movie releases not streamable on Hulu or Netflix
  • Blanketed the subway with posters in 1⁄3 of all subway cars in the MTA system plus on-platform static 2-sheet posters
  • Street-level MTA Buses and cherrypicked, backlit static bus shelters and newsstands
  • And on your evening grocery run, we ran guerilla projections next to grocery stores reminding NYers: there’s a faster way.

Global Growth Framework: Proof + Payoff

Startups often think, wrongly, that digital alone delivers efficient customer acquisition. We flipped the script and proved that – for Gorillas’ US launch advertising – traditional – TV, static OOH and guerilla – made the difference in launching a retail technology app in a world post iOS14.5.

Our innovative US launch advertising framework made a difference in a savagely competitive space:

  • After 212 days operating in the US, Gorillas had opened 15 NYC warehouses (and has sold 13,733 bananas, + counting).
  • Most orders by a single person: 122.
  • Ongoing analysis of CAC, paired with Marketing Mix Modeling, showed traditional was a “rising tide:” lifting performance across all channels – digital and non-.
  • Time decay TV measurement performance data showed our sys-code specific geo-precise linear TV buys yielded conversions in a space competitors neglected.
  • In the end, traditional OOH formats proved more efficient (because competitors had not bid-up the cost!), they delivered “override,” further improving CAC.
  • To date, Gorillas has expanded to more than 60 cities including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Munich, built more than 230 warehouses across 9 countries with more than 15,000 employees [3].
  • Gorillas is disrupting the shopping and supply chain experience of traditional retail companies, shaping new consumer behavior for grocers worldwide.

Despite being outspent by 20.7x on US advertising (Kantar) by its closest competitors, it’s New York operation outperformed all Gorillas’ global markets in basket size. Gorillas was ultimately acquired by Istanbul based Getir for north of $1B USD. Growth Marketing Agency Criterion Global was awarded with two separate Festival of Media Awards for it’s work, beating out larger competitors including Ford and Carnival Cruise Lines for innovative use of media.

Sources + Resources

(Traditional) OOH Innovation

As a growth marketing agency, we’re no stranger to brilliant out of home advertising. Read how we secured one of the most competitive OOH ad deals in NYC history for Barbie (Mattel) and her historic I Can Be campaign, showing (in another context) how traditional can deliver payoff via online/digital activations.

Growth Marketing Agency & Performance Media

Challenger brands need independent thinking to move faster, and more boldly, than the competition. As an independent agency, we work at the speed of startup – from WeWork (yes, in its heyday) to Europe’s Fastest-Growing Unicorn, and many more. Learn how we catalyse new customer acquisition specifically for venture-backed startups.