July 25, 2016
ALBANY — The fight over Airbnb in New York and elsewhere is making its way to this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Anti- and pro-Airbnb forces have each scheduled media buys and other measures designed to grab the attention of Hillary Clinton and Democratic delegates.
ShareBetter, a coalition of politicians, housing and tenant groups, and unions fighting the online home-sharing company, will run television, newspaper and digital ads that will highlight reports of racial discrimination by Airbnb hosts.
“We are bringing these issues to Philly because the eyes of the country will be there and our coalition believes this company needs some good old-fashioned accountability from our country’s leaders,” said Neal Kwatra, chief strategist of the New York and national anti-Airbnb campaign.
An ad will run during prime convention viewing hours on national and local television stations in Philadelphia and New York. It will feature Quirtina Crittenden, who started the #AirbnbWhileBlack movement, addressing Clinton about how she’s been refused rentals on Airbnb because of her race.
A graphic in the ad cites a Harvard Business School study that showed blacks are 16% less likely to get accepted by Airbnb hosts than those with white sounding names.
A truck playing the video will be driving around the perimeter of the convention.
There will also be two days of full-page ads in USA Today, which will be delivered to the hotels where delegates are staying, as well as digital content that will appear on social media and in the online political sections of national newspapers.
Airbnb recently hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and civil rights attorney John Relman to help create a company anti-discrimination policy, but Kwatra said that “press releases and hired guns may help Airbnb’s brand problem, but it won’t do anything to solve discrimination on their platform.”
Meanwhile, Airbnb has bought time to run ads recently unveiled in New York that uses hosts to tout the benefits of home-sharing and warn that a bill recently passed by the New York State Legislature to ban advertising of illegal units would harm those looking for additional ways to make ends meet to stay in the city.
The company also plans to have a truck circling downtown Philadelphia playing the ads.
“Hopefully these stories from our community will educate politicians from New York and nationally about just how important home sharing is to the middle class,” said Airbnb’s Josh Meltzer.