This Airbnb experience lets guests become a children's hospital patient

Moving experiential effort from No Fixed Address shines light on SickKids' need for new infrastructure

Published On
Sep 27, 2019

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Brand tie-ups with Airbnb are now a familiar marketing play. Typically, they’ve been sources of delight, as with the Chicago Institute of Art’s award-winning reimagining of Van Gogh’s bedroom and a more recent idea that invited folks to stay at the real Downton Abbey.

This new collaboration with Canada’s SickKids Foundation takes things in a heartbreaking direction. Toronto agency No Fixed Address recreated a three-hour experience in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. With all the high-tech equipment and the expert care patients receive, such a stay is valued at more than $16,000. Visitors will find, however, that they’ll get little in the way of privacy or comfort. That’s because the hospital is currently in dire need of new facilities and infrastructure. This campaign is designed to help remedy that by drumming up more donations.

SickKids further promoted the effort by inviting celebrities including Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors, reality TV stars Kevin Wendt and Astrid Loch and local TV correspondent Lauren Howe to be among the first guests of the experience. 

“In order to demonstrate the extreme need, SickKids is going to extreme measures,” said Lori Davison, VP-brand strategy and communications of SickKids Foundation in a statement. “While our doctors and staff continue to defy the odds daily, the reality is that the current infrastructure has limitations that do not support the needs of our kids and families. The SickKids Airbnb aims to shine a light on our biggest challenge–the building—to inspire Canadians to help us build a reimagined SickKids of the future.”

“The team wanted to ensure we created the most authentic experience possible without sensationalizing it; finding the delicate balance of being respectful to past patients and parents while also grabbing attention,” added Dave Federico, chief creative officer at No Fixed Address. “We worked closely with the staff, nurses and doctors as well as SickKids families to ensure this was a true-to-life, immersive experience.”

The experiential idea takes a bittersweet turn from SickKids previous campaigns, like the empowering "SickKids Vs" effort that depicted the hospital’s young patients  and their families and caretakers in a heroic light.