Storytelling Done Right: AirBnB Edition


Vice President, Strategic Sales Development , Business Development

airbnb berlin wall

Earlier this week, the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that divided communities and families for nearly three decades has since served as inspiration for peace and unity after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Dealing with historical events that bring out conflicting emotions of happiness, sorrow and trauma is tricky for anybody. And for brands, dealing with such events in a way that is contrived and insincere can backfire. But every now and then a brand meets the challenge, and when they do, it’s usually because their marketers are acting like real human beings. An obvious objective that, surprisingly, many fail to realize.

So how does one go about doing this? Well, I’ll let you watch this AirBnB video below.

As part of this initiative, AirBnB launched the site, that features additional interviews with Jörg (the father) and Kai. Kai recounts being ordered not to interact with the guards on the other side of the wall and the looming sentiment to view Jörg and his colleagues as “the enemy.” Jörg’s daughter, Cathrine, admits she deliberately booked an AirBnB room in East Berlin before discovering Kai’s professional history.

AirBnB is a company that faces many legal hurdles as it expands, dealing with antiquated housing and hotel laws (just look at the on-going fight in NYC). But with marketing like this, people are sure to rally behind AirBnB as they expand to new markets.

“Great content and storytelling is so important now for any brand,” said AirBnB CMO Jonathan Mildenhall. “As a community-driven company, we don’t want to just talk about our product, but instead put our community front and center of any campaign.”