TBWA, Airbnb Think You Should Trust Other People

By Patrick Coffee 

Investor-friendly travel startup Airbnb named TBWA its first lead creative agency last September after working with Pereira & O’Dell (which the company said would remain on its roster) on earlier campaigns.

TBWA’s L.A. team led the pitch, and recent projects by its offices around the world have been less traditional than one might expect: TBWA Singapore created a CGI-free doll house experience and the agency’s London office floated a retro houseboat down the Thames to promote the “sharing economy” client.

Airbnb’s latest ad “Is Mankind?”, which debuted today, positions the travel experience as a metaphorical window into the lives lived by every person who isn’t you:

The company elaborates on the concept in a blog post, writing:


“What if we could explore the world with the fearlessness of a child? As children, we’re all fearless explorers. What if we could recapture that magic of adventure and sense of being at home anywhere?

…Kindness is the foundation of our entire community – Airbnb hosts aren’t just sharing their homes, they’re sharing part of themselves. When guests open their doors, they’re opening their hearts and minds as well.”

Is this how most people see Airbnb? From the press release:

“Through this campaign, Airbnb aims to encourage people to Belong Anywhere through a relevant culture conversation, and it will harness Airbnb’s philosophy that humans are born kind and open to their fellow man, which enables wonderful experiences.”

In other words, don’t be afraid to stay in someone else’s house; you might even allow them to stay in yours.

The new work is an extension of the “Belong Anywhere” campaign that started with April’s “Never a Stranger,” TBWA L.A.’s first ad for its new client:

It’s a gradual way to make consumers more comfortable with the oddest element of the Airbnb equation: an intimate proximity to the lives and possessions of people you will never really know. It also downplays the fears of “sharing economy” newbies without addressing them directly.

Before releasing the new ad to the public, the company got a bit more specific on Twitter this morning:

airbnb twitterSome felt that these messages hit a bit too close to home:

Twitter hot takes aside, subletting someone else’s apartment for a week is still more comfortable–and, most importantly, cheaper–than staying in a hotel. That, rather than the human race’s endless generosity, is why Airbnb has been so successful to date.

An extended minute-long version of this ad will run during tomorrow’s ESPY Awards.



Stephen Butler – Chief Creative Officer
Brent Anderson – Creative Director
Scott Brown – Creative
Becky Ginos – Creative
Sue Anderson – Writer
Mark Sloan – Director of Design
Robbie Reynolds – Designer
Kevin Reid – Designer
Michael Roitman – Sr. Project Manager

Neil Barrie – Group Planning Director
Kyle Luhr – Planning Director
Kyle Bullerjahn – Planner
Farid Mozafari – Strategy Intern

Brian O’Rourke – Director of Production
Kristin McCarron – Digital Producer
Scott Henry – Executive Print Producer
Dena Moore – Executive Print Producer
Stephanie Dziczek – Broadcast Producer
Maryam Ohebsion – Business Affairs Manager
Brian Dougherty – Studio Manager
David Hoogenakker – Senior Producer

Tim Newfang – Senior Producer
Peter Bassett – Director of Production
Karishma Singh – Art Producer
Greg Young – Senior Editor
Cristy Torres – Senior Post Producer

James Vincent – President International-Global Clients
Kelly Lee – Managing Director
Jenn Wong – Brand Director
Matt Theisen – Brand Manager
Aubrey Larson – Associate Brand Manager
Morrie Conway – Associate Brand Manager

Kelli McDonald – Account Assistant


Film Production Partners

Park Pictures – Production Company
Lance Acord – Director
Mary Ann Marino – Executive Producer
The Whitehouse – Editorial Company
Rick Lawley – Editor