Manifest rides away with brief for UK rollout of China’s $1bn bike sharing company, ofo

by Josefine Hedlund

China’s largest non-docking bike sharing company, ofo, has appointed Manifest as its retained agency to support its UK launch and rollout.

ofo pr

The Chinese ‘unicorn’, which is valued at more than $1bn, is on a mission to get Brits on two wheels. After launching in Cambridge in April, it will be rolling into other UK cities later in the year.

ofo was established by graduates at Peking University and has been a huge success across China. It has also launched in Singapore and San Francisco, and is now setting its sights on the UK market. ofo recently received $450million of investment — the biggest ever funding round for the category — with global expansion being a primary objective.

Manifest’s wide-ranging integrated brief includes brand consultancy, public relations, social media strategy, community management and influencer marketing; alongside digital content creation delivered through Manifest’s dedicated content division, O.

Alex Myers, founder and group CEO at Manifest, commented:

“Following its huge impact in China and Singapore, ofo is already a disruptive business that is making its mark globally — so it’s exciting to help steer the brand’s evolution and success in the UK.”

ofo pr

“The brief is broad reaching, making the most of Manifest’s integrated capabilities,” he added. “But also ofo’s clear mission to make a positive impact on the world makes it a perfect fit for our purpose-driven approach to communications strategy.”

The bike sharing phenomenon has revolutionised urban cycling in China, as well as reducing air pollution and congestion in its cities. ofo has 30million active users in China, with over 10million bicycle journeys happening on their iconic yellow bikes every day.

Users of ofo’s bikes — which are unlocked using the ofo smartphone app rather than requiring a dedicated infrastructure like London’s ‘Boris Bike’ system — will pay just 50p for 30 minutes journey time. The non-docking system used by ofo gives riders greater flexibility and freedom, reduces operational infrastructure and complexity that makes expansion simpler and faster while ensuring services are more affordable for riders. The company keeps tabs on its bikes by monitoring the location of the users’ smartphones and a dedicated ground team works on redistribution and repair.

Claire Chen, Head of ofo UK, commented:

“We are very excited to be bringing our cycling revolution to the UK, and from our first meeting, Manifest shared our enthusiasm and vision for the brand. Their integrated approach and understanding of purpose-driven marketing were just what we were looking for to help us make a big impact in the UK and build a loyal community of users to kick start our presence here.”