Rent-out-your-room company Airbnb wants you to know that it’s working on being more inclusive, and locally.
Founded in 2008, the San Francisco-based home-sharing platform is finally hitting D.C. with a wave of targeted advertisements, its first such rollout in the nation’s capital. A spokeswoman for the company says the ads will run online, on television, and on air through mid-November, adding that many of the hosts featured live east of the Anacostia River. Capitol Hill is the company’s most popular neighborhood in D.C., followed by the H Street Corridor and Columbia Heights, according to data it recently released. Those in Wards 7 and 8 didn’t make the top 10.
The campaign comes after Airbnb got flak in recent months for its laissez-faire approach to overseeing its hosts, with critics alleging that many of them discriminate on the basis of race. To address this, the company published a 32-page report earlier this month that outlined policy changes such as requiring hosts to take a diversity pledge starting in November. The District isn’t Airbnb’s first urban marketing push: In 2015, the company vexed San Francisco residents with ads that bragged about the millions of tax dollars it paid to support public services.
These gaffes appear to have been carefully considered for the latest ads. Here’s a look at a 60-second TV spot:
The hosts featured are all D.C. residents who are active in regular club meet-ups, education activities, and small business outreach, the spokeswoman says. There are no paid actors. In another video, a woman named Kanita who lives in Congress Heights says hosting helps to “revitalize” the area, “bringing people in who wouldn’t normally be here, having them spend time in these communities.” Randy, a native Washingtonian who lives in Woodridge, highlights a refrain of the campaign: Airbnb equals extra money to use on D.C.’s high living costs.
Summer tends to be Airbnb’s busiest time in the city, so the campaign may help expand availability into the fall.