Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Here Is Airbnb’s First Television Ad

The peer-to-peer accommodation marketplace Airbnb ran its first television advertisement this week, and it wasn’t your average 30-second spot. Instead, it was an allegorical short film that aired on the Sundance Channel Thursday night. How much did that slot cost? Nothing.

Hollywood & Vines” is a four-and-a-half-minute piece about the life and aspirations of paper airplanes, composed entirely of six-second clips made with the Twitter-owned mobile app Vine.

Each short, postage-stamp-sized scene was submitted in response to an individual tweet from Airbnb, like “A paper airplane falls straight down onto a sidewalk. 2 seconds later a hand carries the plane away,” or, “A piece of paper is thrown into a spinning world with other paper products. Darkness!” The company and its partners Mullen SF and B-Reel Productions got more than 750 submissions.

“It’s an initiative to bring our global community together to create something meaningful and relevant to Airbnb’s brand,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Emily Joffrion, who added that the company is planning a set of accompanying events in Los Angeles. “The plot is about learning your place in the world through travel experiences.”

Joffrion said Airbnb pitched the film to Sundance, and the channel understood it as more of a creative effort than an ad.

The final result is more than a little quirky, and it’s definitely not an in-your-face advertisement for Airbnb. At all:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald