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Marium Najeeb Khan

The Opportunity/Issue

Airbnb was not an official sponsor of the 2016 Academy Awards as it was not allowed to
advertise or even mention the Oscars directly.

So, how do you create a campaign that connects with the audience of an event that you can’t
participate in?

The Strategy

The company’s answer was to create its own conversation around the Oscars with
#LiveInTheMovies, which won the #Creativity award at the first annual Twitter Awards. By
asking people on Twitter what movies they wanted to live in, and then suggesting listings that
matched the movie location, the campaign produced more than 63 million impressions. In
addition to its Twitter award, the campaign won a Cannes Lion Silver award. In effect, Airbnb
captured the creativity of movie fans themselves, creating a conversation that dominated the
Twitter feeds of those watching the Oscars.

Initially, Airbnb looked into buying TV ads to run during the Oscar ceremony. However, the
2016 awards were sponsored in part by Marriott hotels, which meant that it was prohibited from
buying airtime. Even mentioning the name of the ceremony or the nominated movies was a legal
gray area. They couldn’t even pay to advertise.

The team at Airbnb decided to participate in the conversation around the ceremonies that
happened on Twitter. As part of the brainstorming process, they printed out movie posters and
started looking for homes listed on Airbnb that matched the nominated films. That’s when they
realized this could be a very good opportunity for creating the conversation and buzz they

In addition to Tweeting out their own matches between movies and listings, the team also asked
people on Twitter what movies they wanted to live in and why. Those who posted the most
amusing or interesting ideas were offered free stays at a listing that matched their desires.

The campaign began on the Friday before the awards in order to build momentum. This pre-
event work and a Promoted Trend on Twitter also made sure that the campaign was prominent in
followers’ feeds before and during the event.

During the ceremony, Airbnb had between 10 and 15 people assembled. These people were
posting Tweets, double-checking hashtags, and crafting responses. They replied to 160 Tweets on
launch day (1 every 4 minutes with a custom image, custom listing, and custom copy for each

Airbnb also rewarded those who had the best suggestions with coupons for a free night’s stay.
One Twitter participant posted her #LiveInTheMovies as The Little Mermaid. Airbnb responded
with a listing for a seashell house and gave her a coupon for a free stay. She used this to rent a
seaside cottage.

While the campaign looked to Airbnb’s followers like it was all happening spontaneously on
Oscar night, it actually required weeks of planning and preparation. Airbnb had a team of about a
dozen people who worked on the campaign, performing tasks such as making a list of past Oscar
winners, finding matching listings, and pre-writing Tweets for them. They were ready for 200 to
300 different movies and ready if Leonardo DiCaprio won or lost.

Airbnb’s campaign demonstrated that, even when your brand is frozen out of an event, you can
still benefit from it if you think creatively. By going rogue and thinking outside of the usual
solution of running a TV ad, Airbnb created its own conversation and promoted its brand.

Key Results

63 million impressions 6.5x new followers on Twitter versus daily

1.3 million video views with a completion rate 10% uplift in sentiments
50% above average
Airbnb beat paid Oscars sponsors and advertisers, #LiveInTheMovies generated more UGC

reaching #2 in visibility on Twitter over any other brand during the Oscars