Last month Ms. Jenner came out on the cover of Vanity Fair.
After gaining a million followers in four hours, she posted on
Twitter and Instagram about her ESPY win and upcoming TV show.
remained silent during the moment, maybe to avoid being seen as
opportunistic, or maybe because of concern they might alienate
audiences who don't approve of pro-transgender messaging.
Airbnb, however, seized the opportunity to support Ms.
"Transgender personalities are kind of the next group who the
media needs to shine a very warm, welcoming and celebrated light
on," said Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall.
The "Is Mankind?" campaign, focusing on inclusion and universal
human kindness, wasn't going to pivot off of Ms. Jenner originally;
it was going to focus on racial harmony. But with Airbnb's history
of LGBT support, the moment was right for a tailored, one-off
special spot, Mr. Mildenhall said.
Released a few weeks ago, a video featuring a trans person with
his partner and two same-sex couples called "Love is Welcome Here:
Our #HostWithPride Film," is an example of the company's
"I just wish there were more brands out there who were doing
active work and pushing people," said Mr. Mildenhall.
Campaigns taking a stand including Honeymaid's "This
is Wholesome" and Cheerio's
ads featuring a multiracial family. Some reactions were
supportive, and others were scathing.
Does Airbnb fear backlash from people who aren't ready for
"We're not worried about that at all," Mr. Mildenhall said. Take
Coke's "Hilltop" ad for
example, he said. The ad featured people of different ethnicities
singing together, and without the Internet or much international
travel, people didn't see as much diversity as they do today. The
ad was powerful at the time, and Mr. Mildenhall's mother was
shocked by it.
"If you lean into groups of people who are being ignored by
marketers, the halo effect on your brand can be phenomenal," Mr.
Mildenhall said, adding that the effect can last for years. Still,
the Internet isn't always a kind place, and Mr. Mildenhall is
bracing himself. "I am prepared for my inbox to be flooded with
haters who are challenging the position of inclusion... It's not
going to be accepted by everyone."
The ESPYs, a sports-centered award show created by ESPN, will
air on sibling network ABC at 8 p.m. ET. tonight.