Last fall, Bill Smith, the entrepreneur behind Shipt, the same-day delivery service that sold to Target for $550 million, jumped into his latest venture. In November 2019, he debuted Landing, a flexible living platform that promises to give consumers a “home” pretty much anywhere they want, without the hassle of moving furniture and signing a long-term contract. Smith founded the company based on his own personal experience, having dealt with the frustrations of having to uproot his family and move to San Francisco while he was building Shipt.
“When I arrived, I was immediately struck by how difficult it was to rent an apartment,” he wrote in a Medium post. “From countless phone calls and coordinating movers to furnishing an empty space and setting up utilities, it was a massive inconvenience and extremely tedious.”
From that, Smith put $15 million into founding Landing, and this past February, the company earned $30 million in additional funding. While its appeal to investors might be clear, for consumers, perhaps not so much. So this summer, in the middle of the pandemic, the company set out not only get its name out there, but also explain what sets it apart in a lodging landscape filled with everything from short-term rental options like Airbnb and Sonder, to traditional homes.
Landing Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Speyer, former Global Brand Director at Airbnb as well as a vet of agencies including The Community and Grey Group’s The Wing, earlier this year tapped San Francisco-based agency Erich & Kallman to get that job done. What resulted is a charming, animated campaign full of whimsical illustrations and copy showing consumers how they can “Live Everywhere,” courtesy of Landing.
“There’s a place where you can live in every type of neighborhood, with every type of people, every type of weather, every type of flavor, every type of—everything,” reads the voiceover in one of the new spots. “It’s a place called ‘Everywhere’ and only members of Landing get to live there. Landing members get access to thoughtfully furnished apartments across the country, designed for stay-as-long-as-you-like living so you’re always free to move around.”
Speyer says Landing is “fundamentally” different from the likes of Airbnb and Sonder in that every Landing member signs a lease. “This isn’t a place to crash, not somebody else’s sofa,” he says. “It may only be for 30 days, but what we create are homes, from the linens, the cutlery to the cooking equipment in the kitchen. There’s not anyone else who layers that on top of a network of homes around the country, and the ambition is to become international.” Landing currently operates in 21 major cities across the U.S., including L.A., San Francisco, New York, D.C., Boston, Miami and more.
The tone and approach of the campaign was crucial, Speyer says. “A lot of thought went into the style of illustration, the voice talent, the music, and obviously the copywriting is critical because each one of those lines presents an opportunity to explain the whole thing,” he says. That’s where the agency played a key role.
“The brief wasn’t an easy one because what Landing offers is so new,” says Erich & Kallman Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Eric Kallman. “There’s a lot of heavy lifting, a lot of explaining to do.” The agency originally presented about five to six ideas centered on “Landing talking about Landing”—one of which Speyer and his team signed off on. But in the end, the agency didn’t feel like it nailed it, so asked for another week to keep creating.
Eventually, they landed on an idea focused more directly on the consumer experience, resulting in the “Live Everywhere” tagline. “That felt to us like a breakthrough,” Kallman says. “Instead of explaining and defining Landing through the eyes of Landing, let’s talk about what it does for Joe on the street. The whole idea of ‘living everywhere’ was so exciting to us.”
Erich & Kallman won the company’s creative account after a pitch that involved what Speyer describes as some of the industry’s leading creative shops. What gave the agency an edge was that in Erich & Kallman, Landing founder Smith saw a kindred spirit, a small, flexible company that could change course as easily as the business would require. “[Bill] was like, ‘I want to work with these guys because they think the way we think,’” Speyer says. “They know what works today, but you have to get ready to change tomorrow. It was a really good match. It’s a lean flexible machine that changes based on the needs of their business, which is a reflection of the needs of their clients’ business.”
It might seem strange that Landing is pushing the brand out now, when many consumers are likely staying put and traveling less, but Speyer says it’s actually a crucial time since summer is the height of the moving period for many. Also, business has been inexplicably good throughout the pandemic, and the company is in the process of trying to unpack why. “It seems like there are businesses that are very logically doing really well as a result of COVID, like Zoom, and there are those whose success is a little bit harder to understand, but there seems to be a correlation,” Speyer says. “We may be in that [latter] category. We don’t completely understand what we’re seeing, but I’m glad we are spending media money now—it’s not good money after bad. We’re not happy about what’s going on in the world, but something about what we have seems to be working under the circumstances we’re in.”