The mega-hit home-sharing startup Airbnb may have a new logo that everyone is talking about, and an expanding operation, but it also has an old problem: outspoken New Yorkers, armed with Sharpies. On various Airbnb ads that have recently invaded NYC’s subway platforms, someone has crossed out the company’s aggressive pro-apartment sharing messaging, offering instead what some might call “real talk.”
The handwriting suggests that the handiwork comes from the same mastermind, but the sentiment reflects a larger backlash against the room-sharing service. Airbnb is getting heat from regulators for violating state housing laws and the rights of renters’ neighbors. The company has six months until the legislature meets again to discuss its fate.
The company has retaliated with a public relations offensive, including the cheesy ads in the subway and accompanying feel-good videos, a takeover of the New York City marathon, and its recent rebrand.
Airbnb, however, apparently didn’t account for cynical, outspoken New Yorkers. In addition to the graffiti, people have called the ads “trying too hard,” “creepy & propaganda-like,” “disingenuous,” and “lame.”