W+K Beats Out DDB, 72andSunny, R/GA and Anomaly to Win Global Creative Duties for Airbnb

By Patrick Coffee 

In case you missed it, the global review launched in April for Airbnb is over, with Wieden + Kennedy emerging as the winner.

The client confirmed that DDB was the other finalist, and a couple of parties told us that 72andSunny, R/GA and Anomaly rounded out the last five. One may note that DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark and Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall worked together at Coca-Cola, but the latter called this “the most closely contested pitch of my career.”

Frankly, we were surprised Droga5 wasn’t in the mix, because in that case this review would have involved all of the trendiest agencies of the moment.

Here’s the statement from Colleen DeCourcy:

“From day one, it’s been clear to us through every interaction that Airbnb is a values-driven company that cares deeply about its mission and ethos. In this respect, Airbnb and W+K are natural partners. We are a company that lives its values which are centered on people, creativity, and daring to do things that have never been done before. We are inspired because we believe that 21st-century brands are judged by what they do and the value they create for people. When you look at the company we keep—Lyft, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook and now Airbnb—Wieden+Kennedy has become the agency of record of the New Economy.”

She does have a point. DDB CCO Ari Weiss also weighed in:

“As we continue our creative resurgence it’s been critical to surround ourselves with the best clients and the best competition. And this pitch was no exception. In the end it came down to us and one of the best creative agencies in the world. Today we came in second. Tomorrow we come in first.”

W+K will soon start working with Airbnb’s in-house team (yay!) on a fall product launch campaign and a 2018 travel season effort.

For context, TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. had the business for about three years but declined to participate in this review. We’re told, by someone close to the whole process, that the whole thing stemmed from former president James Vincent’s decision to leave the agency in February and launch his own spin-off, FNDR. That effort came from his experience as a direct advisor to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (among other such startup chiefs), and a couple of sources claim that the split also played a key role in TBWA’s decision not to pitch for the Airbnb account.