Airbnb targets families for the first time with 'Live There' campaign

Airbnb: moving the brand narrative onto local experiences
Airbnb: moving the brand narrative onto local experiences

Airbnb has gone after traditional travel company territory for the first time with 'Live There', a global campaign targeted at families as well as its usual millennial demographic.

The campaign, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day, hinges on a familiar Airbnb theme – living in a place rather than simply experiencing it as a tourist, even if only for one night. 

The 60-second TV spot for the UK, ‘Anthem’, shows slightly gauche tourist activities, such as selfie sticks in front of the Eiffel Tower. A voiceover begins: "Don’t go to Paris. Don’t tour Paris. And please don’t ‘do’ Paris. Live in Paris."

The spot then goes onto show an Airbnb host welcoming a guest into his home, and another pair cooking pancakes.

The campaign spans TV, cinema, outdoor, print, digital and social. The TV spot was written by John Figone and art directed by Rafael Goncalves at TBWA\Chiat\Day, and directed by Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNicol through RSA.

While CMO Jonathan Mildenhall wouldn’t reveal campaign budget, he said 30% of spend had been put towards digital, with the brand using a number of new ad formats such as Facebook’s immersive Canvas units and addressable TV in Australia.

The brand is also targeting TV on Twitter and will launch filters on Snapchat.

"We want all our media partners to see Airbnb as a provocative, innovative, experimental brand," Mildenhall said of adopting the new Facebook ad units. "We’ll continue to lean into new types of ad units, and new types of storytelling platforms that let us engage with our target audiences in the most surprising, engaging and efficient way."

"The next generation of the narrative for the Airbnb brand is really about travelling like a local," Mildenhall added. "That when you travel around the world, you don’t just visit or travel to places, you actually live there."

Mildenhall described the campaign as Airbnb’s broadest so far, in that it opens up to the new familial demographic for the first time.

The move might strike fear into more traditional travel companies, which have relied on the idea that stressed families prefer someone else to do holiday planning for them. Last year, Thomas Cook’s marketing director Jamie McQueen said its customers preferred ‘trusted’ experiences over ‘DIY’ brands like Airbnb.

For Airbnb, it’s about keeping up with its original audience. "When millennials become parents, they don’t actually value the same services their parents engaged with," says Mildenhall. "Millennials are now [becoming] families, we’ve got this young, adventure-seeking, ‘I built it myself’ set of parents.

"They still believe there’s this need for having authentic local experiences."

To coincide with this new ‘local’ narrative, Airbnb is overhauling its app to offer a more sophisticated search tool, which offers travellers suggested homes to stay in based on their preferences. The matching service will pair a traveller to a host based on, for example, whether they would prefer to stay with a familiar in a quieter locale.

There’s also a new ‘Guidebooks’ section on the app, that will give host recommendations at a granular, local neighbourhood rather than a city level.

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