Airbnb’s marketing sets itself a difficult challenge: how do you make other people’s houses feel like home?
Prior to the house-sharing start-up taking off in the last few years, the idea of bedding down in a complete stranger’s home was the substance of a horror film’s first act. The brand’s successful integration into the sphere of travel accommodation is in part thanks to the consistently high quality of its advertising campaigns. Diverse in style but always produced with a painstaking finish. Its latest spot is no exception.
‘A Different Paris’ begins with the shiny, aspirational gloss, characteristic of travel advertising. A young woman sits in an immaculately-laid atelier, gazing out over the storybook rooftops at the Eiffel Tower. So far, so Midnight In Paris. As she stands to take in the view, the camera pushes into the skyline, which suddenly jumps into flickering, animated life.
As evidenced by previous campaigns, Airbnb’s creatives clearly pride themselves on their technical ingenuity. In order to illustrate their protagonist’s rose-tinted memories of the City of Lights, the brand constructed a frankly stunning zoetrope in three dimensions. While most zoetropes (one of the most primitive forms of movie-making) shows horses running or athletes jumping, AirBnB’s incredible animation brings memory to life in a manner that’s both sophisticated and captivating.
While the technical specs alone will appeal to design buffs, the ad’s use of the zoetrope never feels like a needless gimmick. Instead the flickering vignettes of her Parisian life (characterised by ramshackle flea markets, late night cafés and raves under bridges) are perfectly brought to life by a series of tiny plastic figurines and sumptuous sets. A week after the Emmys finally gave Mad Men’s Jon Hamm his due, the spot ironically recalls Don Draper’s famous pitch for the Kodak Carousel. Nostalgia is, as Don rightly points out, both "delicate and potent".
The brand has explored this homespun, cutesy aesthetic previously, most notably with ‘Welcome To Airbnb’. While neither that ad nor ‘A Different Paris’ attracted millions of shares, they certainly demonstrate a commitment to a truly loveable atmosphere. Compare this to their most recent campaign ‘Is Mankind?’, a spot which turned the notion of house-swapping into a philosophical journey into the soul of man and was shared significantly more than any of Airbnb’s papier-mâché charm-fests. While ads like ‘A Different Paris’ may prove popular with industry commentators and other creatives, the brand is yet to score a wider viral hit with this aesthetic.
On this basis, it will be interesting to see how Airbnb learns from this in future campaigns.
Airbnb’s ‘behind the scenes’ videos are also reliably brilliant, and this entry is no exception. For fans of craftsmanship, ingenuity and designers talking hyperbolically about building dioramas, it’s a joyful mix of hard work and play. In 2015’s ranking of best ‘behind the scenes’ clips, it’s up there with Lexus’ miraculous hoverboard (oh, and maybe this little film trailer).
(This article first appeared on MarketingMagazine.co.uk)
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