Hmm... Airbnb's Super Bowl Commercial Sure Looks Familiar

Image: Airbnb
Image: Airbnb

During last night’s heart-breaking Super Bowl (seriously Falcons, WTF), Airbnb was one of many companies that decided to use the game to promote the kind of diversity and inclusion that our current president clearly abhors.

The company, which was been one of the more vocal tech companies against Trump’s Muslim Ban, put out an ad called “We Accept,” highlighting its views on inclusion.

As schmaltzy Super Bowl ads go, it wasn’t bad!

It also wasn’t original. As first noted by Inc’s Jeff Bercovici, the Super Bowl ad was effectively a retread of a spot Airbnb put together in November, using nearly identical music, imagery and text. Called “Accept,” that ad was created to play up the company’s “Community Commitment”—a response to alleged discrimination by Airbnb hosts.

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You see, despite Airbnb’s public stances on acceptance and diversity, Airbnb has faced criticism for the way many of its hosts treat non-white guests. After months of sustained discussion about the hidden racial biases taking place at Airbnb, the company released an internal report last September about its efforts to fight discrimination. Starting in October, all hosts had to sign the “Community Commitment” pledge, vowing to treat everyone who tries to book through Airbnb the same, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or age “with respect, and without judgment or bias.”

Now, you could argue that Airbnb took a cover-your-ass style video denouncing a very real, very bad thing happening in its community and made significant changes to turn it into a bold political statement. The company, however, seemed content to play up how “quickly” it put together ad, with tweets and even a New York Times story celebrating its process.

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In fact, it was only after Bercovici’s tweets started getting traction that CEO Brian Chesky copped to reusing footage. The Times story makes no mention of the past campaign.

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As noble as the company’s current campaign may be, its genesis is odd. The original ad was created because Airbnb has a real problem with its hosts accepting people from different backgrounds as guests. Just two months later, the company thinks it can use the same footage to tout its newfound commitment to tolerance.

I’ve reached out to Airbnb for comment.

[Jeff Bercovici]

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Christina is a senior writer at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

JFC do I really have to start another response with JFC? This is an eyes on the prize time people. As in keep your eyes on the f’ing prize and not on stupid distractions like this. You’d think the idea was being planted by an alt-right misdirection campaign.

There’s no conspiracy here. There’s no issue with re-using footage. They came up with an ad that happened to reuse footage and they put in big money to show that ad to a large audience. Why? Because they’re trying to convince tens of thousands of people to open their homes to people in urgent need.

Seriously, this is exactly the kind of thing a tech company should be doing. They can offer a vast clearinghouse of available housing and they can do it quickly when an emergency situation arises. And the biggest criticism is that they didn’t have new creative?

In fact, I’d be more ticked if AirBnB spent big money on coming up with new creative instead of putting that money to reaching the widest audience possible. Maybe critical thinking skills are in short order on all sides...