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Airbnb taps 'cultural ideology'

News, 12 May 2015

AUSTIN, TX: Airbnb, the digital accommodation rental platform, is seeking to leverage a "cultural ideology" in order to build similar cachet as brands like Coca-Cola, Nike and Levi's.

Jonathan Mildenhall, Airbnb's chief marketing officer, discussed this subject at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Transformation 2015 conference.

Prior to assuming his current role in 2014, Mildenhall was svp/integrated marketing communication and design excellence at Coca-Cola - and the soft drinks manufacturer represents one inspiration for Airbnb's focus on "cultural ideology".

"I've studied brands and brand strategy for nearly 30 years. I admire and respect the likes of Nike, Levi's and Coca-Cola, who have cultural ideologies at the heart of their brands," he said. (For more, including how Airbnb translates its ideology into campaigns, read Warc's exclusive report: How Airbnb plans for "super-brand" status.)

Given its platform provides unique experiences as consumers typically stay in the homes of their peers around the world, there was a clear space for the brand to play.

"'Belonging' is as important a kind of cultural ideology to Airbnb as happiness is to Coke or human potential is to Nike. But we're a new brand," Mildenhall said.

"The long-term health of the Airbnb brand also is important … We're looking at [how they] created such universal, long-term ideology."

And while Airbnb might not possess the history of these operators, it is growing at a pace most firms can only dream about.

One corollary of this process, however, is that its marketing team must work at considerable speed even as it strives to join the top tier of brands.

"The velocity of the company means that we want to do next year what it took some of those brands a decade to do," Mildenhall said.

For a "hyper-growth" organisation like Airbnb, he asserted, a major challenge is thus to achieve a similar level of excellence in something approaching real time.

"You still need to go through the same rigorous strategic planning and rigorous creative development, establishing the right kind of management methodology … But you have to do it in breakneck speed."

Data sourced from Warc