Airbnb came to the 2017 Super Bowl ad bowl with a TV spot featuring a diverse group of people and copy that read: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
A bold move to more strongly align its brand with diversity and inclusion and put its corporate citizenship stance front and center, the “We Accept” campaign came nine days after America’s borders adopted a policy of “extreme vetting” for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. “This is a policy I profoundly disagree with,” stated Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. “And it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb.”
The weekend before Super Bowl, Airbnb began providing free and subsidized temporary housing for 100,000 people over the next five years and committed to donate $4 million over the next four years to the International Rescue Committee.
— Joe Gebbia (@jgebbia) February 6, 2017
Chesky and his team created the 30-second Super Bowl spot in three days. “No matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong,” Chesky tweeted along with the #weaccept hashtag for the campaign.
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) February 6, 2017
Airbnb is joining a chorus of Silicon Valley CEOs promoting inclusion while also addressing its own culpability following cases of some Airbnb hosts not renting to people of different ethnic or racial backgrounds. No more, says Chesky — such behavior is unacceptable and not in line with the company’s policies or the heart and soul of its purpose as a brand.
“We couldn’t talk about the lack of acceptance in the world without pointing out the challenges in our own community at Airbnb,” Airbnb’s statement acknowledged. “The painful truth is that guests on Airbnb have experienced discrimination, something that is the very opposite of our values. We know we have work to do and are dedicated to achieving greater acceptance in our community.”
Our five-year goal is to make sure 100,000 people have short-term housing during urgent times.
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) February 6, 2017
Former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State John Kerry were among those tweeting support of the #WeAccept campaign after it debuted during the Big Game.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) February 6, 2017
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) February 6, 2017
Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Uber and Lyft executives also spoke out on travel restrictions, which were stayed temporarily by a federal judge over the weekend. Xerox, for its part, tweeted a response to Airbnb’s ad with a simple, “Copy that. #weaccept”
— Xerox (@Xerox) February 6, 2017
Among other brand ads celebrating diversity and inclusion in the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola re-ran its 2016 spot featuring America the Beautiful sung in multiple languages; Budweiser ran “Born the Hard Way,” a fictionalized journey of German founder Adolpus Busch’s arrival in the US; Audi promoted equal pay for equal work with its “Daughter” spot narrated by a father; and 84 Lumber’s original Super Bowl ad depicted a fictional wall on the Mexican border, a scene that was available in a longer version online but not included in the final Big Game ad.
In an already historic Super Bowl—first overtime, coming back from a 25 point deficit, marking a fifth win for quarterback Tom Brady—Airbnb set the bar for patriotic sentiment: “Acceptance starts with all of us.” Or as Airbnb’s CEO stated, “Open doors brings all of US together,” as Chesky said. “Let’s all find ways to connect people, not separate them.”
On a dedicated WeAccept microsite, the brand laid out its corporate citizenship platform:
We believe in the simple idea that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong. We know this is an idealistic notion that faces huge obstacles because of something that also seems simple, but isn’t – that not everyone is accepted.
People who’ve been displaced, whether because of war or conflict or other factors, are acutely vulnerable to not being accepted. They are, quite literally, in need of a place to belong, which is why we’ve been inspired to take action.
We started by providing housing for evacuees of disasters and have since provided housing during 54 global disasters. We partnered with organizations dedicated to the needs of refugees around the world. And just last week, we announced that the Airbnb community will provide free housing to refugees and those recently barred from entering the US. When we announced this, there was an outpouring of interest from our community, and we were inspired to go bigger.
Today we’re setting a goal to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need. We’ll start with refugees, disaster survivors, and relief workers, though we want to accommodate many more types of displaced people over time. To help people around the world facing displacement, we’ll work with our community of hosts to find not just a place to stay, but also a place to feel connected, respected, and a part of a community again. In addition, Airbnb will contribute $4 million over the course of four years to the International Rescue Committee to support the most critical needs of displaced populations globally.
We couldn’t talk about the lack of acceptance in the world without pointing out the challenges in our own community at Airbnb. The painful truth is that guests on Airbnb have experienced discrimination, something that is the very opposite of our values. We know we have work to do and are dedicated to achieving greater acceptance in our community.
These efforts are just the beginning, and we hope you consider joining us by sharing your home with someone who is displaced or donating to organizations that assist those in need. It’s possible that a child today will grow up in a different kind of world, one where they’re accepted for who they are, no matter where they are. Because we really do believe that the world is a better, more beautiful place the more we accept each other.
– The founders of Airbnb