Airbnb’s Cool Retro Ads for the Brooklyn Half Marathon Ask You to (Gasp) Call This Number

Campaign by Collins calls on the NYC of yesteryear

Airbnb is going old school in its newest local campaign—promoting New York businesses with a phone tree.

To support its sponsorship of the upcoming Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon, the hospitality tech company is running billboards and wild postings created by agency Collins. They feature a minimal, doodle-style aesthetic, an anthropomorphic version of the company's logo striking various running poses, and an invitation to learn more about all the borough has to offer—by dialing a 718 number, the classic area code for Brooklyn landlines.

Anyone who calls (718) 885-4228 gets to hear recordings of Airbnb hosts from different neighborhoods sharing recommendations for their favorite spots. Press 1 for restaurants and get clued in about options like Cobble Hill bar and grill Henry Public (and its Wilkinsons dessert) or Milk Bar in Prospect Heights. Press 2 for shopping and find out about Acorn, the nifty toy store in Boerum Hill, or Martine's Dream, a clothing store in Crown Heights. Press 3 for drinking and nightlife spots, like Achilles Heel in Greenpoint. Press 4 for music and entertainment and get the skinny on events like SummerScreen, Williamsburg's outdoor film series.

It's a fun gimmick that takes pride in its throwback technological limitations, even if they're a bit self-defeating—Brooklyn isn't small, and without location-tracking wizardry, the recommendations aren't necessarily that convenient. But the phone tree itself ultimate ties into Airbnb's more comprehensive NYC guide, and there's no shortage of other resources available to web-savvy tourists on where to find, say, the best bagel in a three-block radius.

While the visuals blend unusually well into graffiti-clad backgrounds, Collins executive creative director Matt Luckhurst points to two other historical examples—an infamous local dermatologist, and the DIY publishing scene—as sources of inspiration for the lo-fi approach.

"We wanted to speak to the entirety of Brooklyn. Old and new, young and old. We looked to the New York aesthetics of days past—from Dr. Zizmor subway ads to punk zines," he tells Adweek. "With this inspiration, we stripped back the color and filled the space with information. Rather than ask people to enter a hashtag, we present a way to use a phone the way it was intended—to make a phone call." 


Client: Airbnb

Chief Marketing Officer: Jonathan Mildenhall

Managing Director of Art Department: James Goode

Global Marketing Director: Brian Irving

Brand Marketing Manager: Anna Frenkel

Creative Producer: Chris Lynch

Brand Strategist: Kyle Bullerjahn

Copywriter: Michael Smith

Junior Graphic Designer: Stephanie Low

Creative Lead: Christian Rongavilla

Experiential Marketing Manager: Kat Fox Hellerslien

Interactive Producer: Bud Johnston

Social Marketing Specialist: Anne Mueller

Digital Designer: Rita Troyer

Production Manager: Ben Kasman

Photo Producer: Rebecca Lanthorne

Agency: Collins

Executive Creative Director: Matt Luckhurst

Senior Designer: Christian Widlic

Producer: Jenny Yau

Illustration: Brandon Land and Dark Igloo

Animation: Nicolo Bianchino