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  • 04.21.15

Airbnb’s Biggest Ad Campaign Yet Emphasizes That Feel-At-Home Feeling

It’s about being a tourist without being a “tourist.”

Airbnb’s Biggest Ad Campaign Yet Emphasizes That Feel-At-Home Feeling

It’s far from an industry secret that the idea of an authentic, unique travel experience is particularly hot right now in consumer travel. It’s such fertile ground that even global corporate hotel chains are taking great pains to appear as anything but global corporate hotel chains.

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Airbnb is custom made for this trend which has helped the brand become a worldwide phenomenon over the last few years–the platform now boasts 30 million guests and more than a million listings around the world. The company has now launched its largest ad campaign yet, using real Airbnb hosts in five cities to boast that using its service will make you feel local wherever you are.

“Never a Stranger,” created by agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, takes us to New York, Paris, Tulum, Tokyo and Rio with Ellie. It swiftly sidesteps perhaps the biggest question mark for many potential customers–concerns about staying with strangers–to spin it as a positive. Strangers? What strangers? It seems like Ellie becomes one of the family on every stop.

“Traveling on Airbnb is personal, and we found that many of our travellers leave personal notes for one another, which is the inspiration for the video,” says Airbnb chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall. “Our goal was to create a truly global journey, the trip of a lifetime. When selecting hosts we started by searching for Airbnb SuperHosts in each of the neighborhoods where we filmed. We wanted to find hosts with unique, beautiful listings and unique, beautiful stories about what hosting on Airbnb brings to their lives.”


The campaign will be in the U.S., UK, and Australia, featuring feature broadcast spots in primetime during the NBA playoffs, American Idol and Modern Family, as well as a UK YouTube masthead, Instagram Carousel ads, and spots running in theaters with Avengers across all three countries.

On the campaign’s site, there is a series of short host profiles so you can learn a bit more about Ellie’s hosts like Ed in Tulum or Kenji in Tokyo. Will you end up being lifelong friends with your Airbnb hosts? Probably not. But like the tech utopias of most Apple or Google ads, the campaign presents a seductively sweet version of life to convince you otherwise.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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