AirBnb wants you to think about mankind—and it’s willing to drop some wordplay to make sure you do. “Is man kind?” it asks, through a voice over, in its new commercial featuring a lonely diaper-wearing toddler running through a dark hallway toward a house’s front door. “Are we good?” the ad continues.
What this has to do with a company that lets people temporarily sublet their spare rooms and homes may not immediately be clear—unless one is interested in contemplating the risks of renting from (or to) a stranger, something AirBnB probably doesn’t want. Based on the ad, AirBnB wants you view staying in other people’s homes as a way to understand and love humankind. That type of overreach isn’t completely unusual in marketing, but the ad sums things up with one of the creepiest lines in the history of advertising:
Sleep in their beds, so you may know their dreams.
Understandably, the reactions to the campaign haven’t been great. While Adweek called the spot “ambitious,” Gothamist had less encouraging words, comparing the commercial to an “arthouse horror movie.” The Next Web called it “creepy as hell.”
AirBnB isn’t the first—and it won’t be the last—company to get a bit ahead of itself in a cringeworthy commercial.
“Chairs are like Facebook,” anyone?
Then there are all the banks that want you to have warm and fuzzy feelings about them. UK’s Nationwide Building Society, for instance, is just like that scarf you made for your dad so many years ago.
Or Bank of America, that is—ehm—like a flower?
Oklahoma Bank, on the flipside, is apparently on a mission to destroy the world:
To be fair, Apple’s 1984 ad directed by Ridley Scott is widely considered among the greatest commercials ever. But it’s also rather ominous and self-serious.
Still, marketing departments should stop for a second before going the epic ad route, and consider that it could leave them looking ridiculous.