Through the use of a profound true story about human connection and transformation, Airbnb aimed to create a global conversation around the idea of "belonging" and in turn encourage people around the world to open their homes and further break down the walls that divide us. As well as the short film, Airbnb conducted an economic impact study on Berlin to demonstrate the positive impact that Airbnb customers have upon the economy and city itself. And taking it a step further, the brand provides updates on the the family that was featured in the film and a space in which customers can see thousands of other customer experiences similar to this.
“We strongly believe in the power of good storytelling, and in recent months we have evolved our strategy to place the focus on our community” - Dennis Goedegebuure (Airbnb’s SEO).
This advertisement is a great example of content marketing. More and more big brands are getting involved with content marketing, the idea that storytelling is key to attract and retain customers (Pulizzi, 2012). Rather than trying to sell a product, Airbnb provide relevant and valuable information to their customers through a true story from a real customer. Airbnb communicate their integrity and credibility, a persuasive technique that grabs the audience’s attention and show to them that this is a brand that they should be involved with.
Several studies provide evidence in support of storytelling as an influential technique, demonstrating that adverts containing stories resulted in the audience relating more to the advert, and an increase in credibility of the information, likeability and interest in the brand (Harris, 2008; Hastie & Pennington, 2000).
Slusher and Anderson (1996) provide experimental evidence demonstrating that an audience is more likely to change their beliefs or behavior with the presence of causal evidence, which in this case is the customer’s personal experience of using Airbnb.
In the short film, Airbnb use the power of storytelling to create an emotional connection with their audience. The historic background and the emotions depicted in the story make the advert relatable, and adverts that are relatable are more likely to stick in the audience’s memory. Similarly invoking emotions such as surprise and joy concentrates attention and retains viewers (Teixeira, Wedel, & Pieters, 2012).
Airbnb successfully caught the attention of their intended audience and set into motion the journey towards "Belonging Anywhere" through the use of content marketing, storytelling and emotional influence.
Harris, M. A. B. (2008). Getting carried away: Understanding memory and consumer processing of perceived storytelling in advertisements. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 68, 3197-3197.
Hastie, R., & Pennington, N. (2000). Explanation-based decision making. In T. Connolly, H. R. Arkes, & K. R. Hammond (Eds.), Judgment and decision making (2nd ed., pp. 212-228). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pulizzi, J. (2012). The rise of storytelling as the new marketing. Publishing Research Quarterly, 28, 116–123.
Slusher, M.P., & Anderson, C.A. (1996). Using causal persuasive arguments to change beliefs and teach new information: The mediating role of explanation availability and evaluation bias in the acceptance of knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 110-122.
Teixeira, T., Wedel, M., & Pieters, R. (2012). Emotion-induced engagement in Internet video advertisements. Journal of Marketing Research, 49, 144–159.