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|Barbara O.||Chief Financial Officer||CA|
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|Nick B.||Global Chief Strategy Officer||CA|
|Stephen B.||Creative Chairman||CA|
|Renato F.||Chief Creative Officer - LA||CA|
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Score 51 - Close Watch: Airbnb launching new 'experiences,' revamping brand, marketing
Subject: digital, TV, print, social media, experiential marketing
Opportunity: At last week's Airbnb Open event, CEO Brian Chesky announced a number of new tour and travel experiences and additions to the platform. These new additions are designed to transform the company from just short-term rentals into a "fuller-service" travel agency. First up is the introduction of a service called Trips, which will provide tours and other activities for travelers. Specifically, Trips will launch with 500 experiences provided by locals in 12 cities designed to help travelers "immerse in a local community."
Airbnb exploded with the rise of the so-called "sharing economy" (think: Uber, Postmates, etc) that allows people to monetize their existing assets. However, the service has encountered a number of legal speedbumps in its eight year history, so the fact that a rebrand or brand pivot is in the works is somewhat less than shocking. Mildenhall mentioned that people currently use Airbnb every six months, but the ultimate goal is to make Airbnb a daily app (read about more services planned below). All of these changes are bringing out my inner Nadeen.
Sellers - any overhaul such as the one Airbnb has planned normally comes with increased marketing dollars. In an interview with Adweek, CMO Jonathan Mildenhall said that marketing for the new services needs to move into "more of an experiential mindset than a traditional mindset." Therefore, he added, all the marketing content is "going to come out of the product content and all of the product content will have to serve as marketing."
He explained that this means that every host needs a :30-second trailer and poster - i.e. all print work is just going to be the hosts' posters and all digital, video, TV and cinema work is just going to be these trailers. All paid marketing will feature invitational end cards, as well, which will take you into an "infinity loop" of product content that becomes marketing content and around and around (until you die? who knows). And lastly, Mildenhall said Airbnb will utilize Facebook Live in marketing, stating: "If we're going to be the world's most preeminent experiential company is behooves us to really, really try and redefine what experiential marketing is."
Agency readers - Airbnb currently has three AORs on its roster: design agency Koto (responsible for the Trips identity); product marketing agency Bokeh (responsible for user interface and functional videos); and Mildenhall joined as CMO), meaning the relationship is rapidly approaching average tenure (2.5-3 years).
Magazine & Other Launch Plans: In addition to the Trips service, Airbnb is also taking another stab at print media. Airbnb Magazine is being produced in conjunction with Hearst Magazines and is being spearheaded by Hearst chief creative officer Joanna Coles. One issue has already debuted and this first issue focuses on Los Angeles. Plans are for the magazine to feature stories from Airbnb hosts and travelers and each edition will focus on a different city around the world, with two full-size annual issues slated for next year.
Airbnb also plans to provide a platform for people to make restaurant reservations, rent cars, book flights, get grocery delivery and other services. During the announcement of Trips, Chesky debuted ads that will appear on Airbnb's website and mobile app touting the new service. In a move that is both a little pretentious and also straight up my alley, Chesky said the new service was inspired by mythologist
Media Spend: According to Kantar Media, Airbnb spent $27.9 million on measured media in 2015. Most of this was allocated to broadcast ads ($18.3 million), digital display ($4.9 million), out of home ($1.4 million) and search ads ($2.7 million).
National TV Spend: So far in 2016, Airbnb has spent $17.1 million on national TV ads - all of which ran from April to July (when travel planning is at its highest). Note that the first spot featuring a host debuted at the end of October and featured Lawrence from Seattle (see above). Airbnb actually spent slightly more during the same period 2015 - $18.4 million - but spend continues to be much higher than it was in 2014 ($71,000).
See iSpot's chart for 2016 show targeting.
Of Airbnb's 2016 digital ads, 32% were placed site direct. The remainder were placed through Google AdX + AdSense (14%), ONE by AOL - Vidible (10%), DoubleClick Bid Manager (8%) and Advertising.com (3%). Top ad destinations include: aol.com, youtube.com, huffingtonpost.com, rollingstone.com, ew.com (Time, Inc.) and pitchfork.com.
For the same period 2015, Airbnb's digital spend was much lower, totaling only $3.6 million (474.7 million).
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