Airbnb bought its first 30 seconds of Super Bowl time only days before the 2017 game, spurred by President Trump's initial proposed travel ban on arrivals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Although the ad, which was created in-house, doesn't directly challenge the travel ban explicitly, which might have violated Fox guidelines that Super Bowl ads aren't “for viewpoint or advocacy of controversial issues.” Fox had already forced 84 Lumber to revise its creative to leave out images of a wall on the border with Mexico, one of the president's signature campaign pledges, and stick with footage of a mother and daughter moving through Mexico toward the United States ("The Journey Begins"). 84 Lumber posted their encounter with the border wall online.
But the target of Airbnb's tolerance message wasn't lost on anyone watching in February 2017. Already Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky had sent staff a Jan. 29 memo "profoundly" disagreeing with the travel ban, calling it "a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb.”
Then executives learned that there was time left in the Super Bowl's commercial breaks, The New York Times reported:
Two Airbnb officials who were not permitted to speak on the record said the company had not planned to advertise during the Super Bowl until executives heard there was still ad space left.
Mr. Chesky and the company’s two other founders, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, worked with Jonathan Mildenhall, the company’s head of marketing, to put together the 30-second spot in three days, an effort that typically takes weeks or even months.
“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong," the ad's text reads. "The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
QUARTER AIRED: Q1