Airbnb is in full damage control mode today, after a bizarrely passive aggressive ad campaign launched this week across San Francisco and drew instant and universal condemnation. The company has moved quickly to pull the ads, and tweeted out a public apology yesterday morning.
The ad copy, which suggests that residents of San Francisco should be grateful to the company for paying its taxes, struck a nerve in the city.
“I don’t think it was perhaps a well thought-out advertising strategy,” San Francisco Public Library spokeswoman Michelle Jeffers, putting it perhaps a little charitably, told the Chronicle.
The company's statement admitted poor judgement, and said the advertisements did not reflect Airbnb's values. This apology was quickly called out for lacking sincerity and was roundly mocked on twitter.
@Airbnb I'm pretty sure they accurately portray your values and humanity, which is why you're upset people have seen them.— Jimmy Boo-art (@Hanksingle) October 22, 2015
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent an internal email to staff yesterday, reports CNET, copping to the huge blunder.
"Yesterday I heard from so many of you about how embarrassed and deeply disappointed you were in us. You were right to feel this way."
As the November 3rd election draws closer by the day, the campaign reads as a poor attempt to engender some good will among the San Francisco public. It appears that the company hoped the ads, which were splayed on bus shelters and bulletin boards around the city, would help sway the public toward voting "no" on Proposition F — a measure designed to further regulate the vacation/home rental company.
It was also a masked attempt, as SFMTA policy disallows bus shelter ads on "a ballot measure scheduled for consideration by the voters in an upcoming election."
Dale Carlson, one of Proposition F's authors, couldn't quite believe it when he first saw the advertisements. "It's wild," he told the Chronicle, echoing the thoughts of pretty much everyone in San Francisco.
This all follows another, shall we say, odd series of ads released by Airbnb last summer. With tag lines like “Go look through their windows, so you can understand their views,” and “Sleep in their beds, so you may know their dreams,” the ads left many with a strong sense of unease.
“@Airbnb: Sleep in their beds, so you may know their dreams.” Walk in their shoes, so you can then steal their shoes.— Nehad Kenanie (@nehadk) July 15, 2015
.@Airbnb Sniff their pillows. Get in real deep. Smell their fears and nightmares.— Chuck Cotterman (@MrCott) July 14, 2015
Previously: Passive Aggressive Airbnb Ad Campaign Is Real, And They're Already Taking It Down And Apologizing
Day Around The Bay: Is This An Actual Airbnb Ad?
Airbnb's $8 Million And More: SF Campaign Fundraising, By The Numbers