Airbnb Apologizes For Ads Implying San Francisco Can’t Manage Its Finances
Airbnb has begrudgingly started paying hotel tax in San Francisco, and the company decided to celebrate by creating an ad campaign to tell the city where it can stick its money.
— jessamyn west (@jessamyn) October 21, 2015
Here’s a little more context, from Fast Company:
The campaign appears to have been launched in an effort to subtly encourage opposition to a piece of legislation known as Proposition F, which would more strictly regulate Airbnb-type rentals. The company has reportedly spent upwards of $8 million opposing Prop F, and had only started paying the city’s hotel tax this year after avoiding it for years. An irony not lost on locals reacting to the new campaign, with many taking exception to the $25 billion brand treating its taxes as some sort of charitable contribution.
And here are two more Airbnb ads:
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— Sarah Fine (@fineplanner) October 21, 2015
— sp º o º ky psyduck (@sarahjeong) October 22, 2015
Parodies instantly emerged:
— SFist (@SFist) October 22, 2015
And yes, as that tweet implies, Airbnb quickly sent out an apology. From SFWeekly:
UPDATE: Airbnb has confirmed that the ads are indeed real and says that it plans to take them down. We’ve reached out to SFMTA to attempt to confirm the cancellation. Here’s Airbnb’s statement:
“The intent was to show the hotel tax contribution from our hosts and guests, which is roughly $1 million per month. It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended. These ads are being taken down immediately.”
I wonder how much money it cost to design the ads and put them up, and how much it’ll cost to take them all down. After all, Airbnb could have donated that money to the public library.
Prop. F backers say proliferating vacation rentals, many of them arranged by hometown startup Airbnb, as well as other sites like HomeAway, FlipKey and Craigslist, siphon permanent units from the market, hurt neighborhood ambience and infringe on landlords’ rights. They want to cap rentals to travelers at 75 days a year and enable steep civil fines and big-bucks lawsuits against violators — both websites and hosts. The initiative also would require hosts to report quarterly on how many days they live at home, as well as their rentals — reports on rentals are already required.
Thanks to our Billfold readers for the tip!