Put Away the Selfie Stick and Live Like a Local, Urges Airbnb’s New Campaign

'Don't go there. Live there.'

Headshot of Katie Richards

Travelers today, especially those using Airbnb to find lodging around the world, don't want to navigate throngs of other tourists for a glimpse of Times Square or Fisherman's Wharf.

According to data from Airbnb, 86 percent of its users pick the platform because they want to live more like a local. That insight of living rather than visiting inspired the brand's latest and largest marketing campaign, "Live There."

"Don't go to Paris. Don't tour Paris, and please don't do Paris," the ad's narrator advises over footage of selfie sticks and packed tour boats. Instead, the ad advises, "Live in Paris."

The work, from agency TBWA\Chiat\Day is aimed at younger travelers, or at least those young in spirit. It's focused not just on the millennial generation, but also on those who want to eat at local restaurants, meet local artists and avoid tourist traps.

According to Airbnb, 52 percent of these younger-minded U.S. travelers find crowds at major tourist attractions to be more stressful than doing a tax return, while 47 percent don't like to be labeled as tourists when they go to a new place.

With that in mind, Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall said he wanted the brand's latest work to push back against the modern tourism industry and capture the idea that people shouldn't simply go to a new place, they should live there, even if only for one night.

"The modern tourist industry kind of shepherds travelers through this exhausting conveyor belt of rather crowded experiences. Increasingly there is a growing ground flow of traveler demand for experiences that are not like the typical tourist experiences that actually more reflect what it's like to live in local places," Mildenhall told Adweek.

Outside of the new 60-second spot (plus some print and out-of-home work) Airbnb also rolled out updated features for its app, all of which are meant to help travelers assimilate into the local culture. Part of that comes with Airbnb guidebooks which are fueled and filled by locals, not tourists. Unlike some competitors, the Airbnb guidebooks allow future visitors to get a taste of what day-to-day life is like for people who actually live in the city.

"Trip Advisor's rankings are driven by what tourists think of their experiences, not what locals think of their experiences," Mildenhall said. That can, he said, often lead to a disconnect for travelers looking for an authentic experience.

Mildenhall cited San Francisco as a prime example. While a travel website built on tourist response might tell you to go to Fisherman's Wharf, a local would tell you that the true San Francisco experience is an afternoon in Dolores Park.

Another feature aims to help connect people with the perfect host and home. With 2.25 million homes in 34,000 cities listed on the platform, there are plenty of options for travelers, but sometimes finding the right spot can be tough for users.

"We've got product innovation that, through algorithms, enables a traveler to find the right host and the right home in the right neighborhood based on their preferences," Mildenhall said.

Check out the print work below. 


Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day

Creative: Stephen Butler, Brent Anderson, Kevin Butler, John Figone, Michael Flannery, Chris Mizutani, Rafael Goncalves, Sarah Johnston, Logan O'Brien

Account: James Vincent, Kelly Lee, Jenn Wong, Matt Theisen, Teddy Notari, Aubrey Larson, Kelli McDonald 

Planning: Neil Barrie, Jennifer Costello, Emilie Arrive, Farid Mozafari

Production: Brian O'Rourke, Darryl Hagans,Joseph Haldemann, Dena Moore, Kat Urban, Karishma Singh

Business Affairs: Linda Daubson, Maryam Ohebsion

Traffic: Gus Mejia

Client: Airbnb

Chief Marketing Officer: Jonathan Mildenhall

Global Marcom Director: Brian Irving

Head Of Advertising: Peter Giorgi

Global Marcom Manager: Marion Link

Global Marcom Manager: Alessandra Cuetara

Global Head Of Production: Rachel Holbrook

Global Production Lead: Holly Butler

Production Associate: Nion McEvoy Jr

Media Manager: Rachael Haley

Social Media Manager: Jasmine Atherton

Production – RSA

Director: Anna Sandilands + Ewan McNicol

President: Jules Daly

Executive Producer: Marjie Abrahams

Head of Production: Elicia Laport

Line Producer:  Jan Wieringa, Julie Sawyer

Prod Supervisor: Stephen Strosin

Dir. Of Photography:  Jim Jolliffe

Global Stylist:  Thom Murray

Editorial – Rock Paper Scissors

Editor – Tokyo, Paris, LA: Damion Clayton & Marjorie Sacks

Editor – Anthem: Adam Pertofsky & Marjorie Sacks

Post Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh

Assistant Editor: Mike Spagnoli

Telecine/Film Transfer – MPC

Colorist: Mark Gethin

Sounds Studio: Lime

Audio Mix: Lime

Online Editorial: A52

Executive Producer: Kim Christensen

Producer: Drew Rissman

@ktjrichards katie.richards@adweek.com Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.