NEW YORK: Karhoo has brought on Cohn & Wolfe to help it roll out its ride-comparison and booking app in the U.S. later this year.
Karhoo’s foray into the increasingly competitive U.S. market is planned for the fourth quarter of this year, with the app set to launch in New York, and then in other high-volume travel markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas.
The WPP firm is providing strategic communications counsel and media relations services for the U.S. launch.
"Within a year, we will be in 100 cities globally and a lot of the major cities across America," said Adam Fresco, Karhoo's global comms director. "So [Cohn & Wolfe] will be helping with messaging around all of those."
Cohn & Wolfe’s main objective is to build consumer awareness of Karhoo, which Fresco described as "an Expedia for the ground-transportation business."
Cohn & Wolfe is Karhoo’s first North American PR AOR. The brand works with Mission in the U.K. and the Hoffman Agency in Asia. Fresco worked as media relations director at Mission for more than four years before joining client Karhoo as global comms director in May.
Karhoo, which launched earlier this year in the U.K., has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Singapore. The app aggregates thousands of taxi and for-hire vehicle services, and it is set to include more than 20,000 cars in the greater New York area.
"Karhoo is leveling the playing field for the taxi and for-hire-vehicle industry, giving consumers more choice, while giving drivers the chance for more work," said Fresco.
He added that the app also supports family-owned taxi businesses located in the suburbs that might struggle more than those based in the center of a city.
"What we have seen until now is eight weeks after launch [in certain areas], revenue and rides for those firms went up 30% and they were hiring more drivers to cope with demand," Fresco said.
The company claims its app gives consumers more flexibility about what kind of ride they want, as well as the time and the price. It also allows them to schedule rides up to a year in advance, according to a statement.
"We chose Cohn & Wolfe because they understood the ethos of Karhoo, and they are a global agency with offices across North America, which is a great fit for us," said Fresco.
Steve Bonsignore, Cohn & Wolfe’s MD and the firm’s New York consumer practice leader, is leading a team of five staffers on the account.
"It’s a tremendous opportunity to introduce real differentiation to the market," he said, via email. "We look forward to establishing Karhoo as a category-changing player and bringing its innovative technology to life through equally innovative communications across a wide range of media."
Budget information was not disclosed. Karhoo started working with Cohn & Wolfe in July, following a competitive RFP.