The pandemic hit some organisations harder than others, and for companies like Airbnb in the hospitality industry, it was a big blow. So, it wasn’t a surprise that Airbnb made the decision to pause all its performance marketing, but what may be a surprise is that the cut is going to be permanent.

Airbnb’s founder, Brian Chesky, explained that despite taking performance marketing down to zero, the company still had 95% of the same traffic from the year before. This lesson has prompted a complete rethink of marketing spend at Airbnb.

Airbnb plan to move spend away from performance marketing and into brand marketing, with a focus on media relations. During the company’s earnings call, Brian Chesky said that this new ‘full funnel’ marketing strategy is “very important to the corporate story”.

Looking at the numbers, it’s not a decision that has been made lightly either – and I should say that they haven’t cut performance marketing altogether, but reduced it significantly.

Now, you may be thinking that it’s alright for them to make such a bold move, they’re already so well known. And you’re right. The Airbnb brand is strong so getting people to the site is not an issue.

The focus now for Airbnb is different – their communications objectives are now centred around broader reputation and helping people to understand the brand better. The company wants potential hosts and guests to understand the benefits and what makes the experience distinctly Airbnb.

This isn’t just a strategy for brands with big reputations, it’s about applying the right marketing mix to support your objectives. What PR allows is more than just eyeballs on your website, it’s a vehicle to educate, inform and shape your company’s reputation.  Those who get it really right create more than just a commercial connection, but an emotional connection to the brand too.

Airbnb really get this.

What’s the takeaway from all this?

Now is the time to reassess your marketing spend. The pandemic has changed everyone’s behaviours, so consider this: Do you have a clear understanding of what these behaviours and beliefs are? How do you adapt your comms with that understanding? The European Journal of Social Psychology states that it can take between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit, and an average of 66 days for that habit to become an automatic behaviour. We can safely say that we have had very long stints with significant government restrictions, meaning our routines have changed. How we all live and work will never go back to the way things were, so your marketing strategy mustn’t either.

And it’s not just about gaining a better understanding of your audiences – it’s about realigning your communications to this ‘next normal’.

But remember that there are always changes around the corner. The beauty of Airbnb’s move is that they’ve allowed for flexibility in their marketing strategy, and have kept a mix of tactics, which can be dialled up and dialled down. 

We’re on the path out of the pandemic – be bold and #reset!

It’s fair to say that there’s a lot going on at the moment and it may be hard to keep up with the news – especially if you’re also trying to scour online for last-minute Christmas presents. So, in case you’re busy concentrating on getting that perfect gift or what size turkey you’ll need for your Christmas bubble, we’ve rounded up the biggest news in tech to be keeping an eye on.

With Covid vaccinations now underway, there could be some more good news on the horizon for the UK tech scene. British mobile networks are hoping to take up a leading role in emerging radio technology, OpenRan, which could be worth up to $21bn. The Daily Telegraph has the full story.

The end of the year is also set to mark a bumper month for tech IPOs. As a household name now, everyone has been watching Airbnb closely as it continued to raise the price of its shares ahead of its IPO on 10th December, making it one of the largest US IPOs of the year. Head to the Guardian to read more. The Guardian also covered food delivery company DoorDash’s huge IPO.

We’re also one step closer to landing on Mars, with SpaceX undertaking its first suborbital flight test, continuing plans to take that giant leap onto Mars in four years. Want to find out more and where to watch the live stream? Head to the Independent.

However, it’s not all good news for everyone. The future may not be looking so rosy for the big players of Silicon Valley, as the UK Competition and Markets Authority is asking for more powers to crack down on tech giants. You can find out more about what the CMA is proposing and what new regulations could look like on the Daily Telegraph.

Tech giants are also facing additional challenges. Google is currently coming under fire and receiving employee backlash after sacking leading AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru. To read the whole story of what happened and the response from other Google employees, head to BBC News.  Uber has also announced that it’s putting the brakes on plans to create its own self-driving car, putting a stop to the ambitious initiative by transferring its autonomous vehicle tech to rival Aurora, according to the Financial Times.

UK fintech and challenger banks, such as Monzo and Revolut, may also be in for a rough ride in 2021, as a new Accenture report has found that UK consumers are uncertain about their ability to survive long-term. CityAM covers the full report and analysis.

Following huge disparity revealed across different parts of the UK, leading industry body, TechUK, is also calling for the UK government to address the “Local Digital Capital gap” in the coming year. CityAM has more on this and the call to digitally level up.

Hopefully you’re a little more clued up now on what to watch out for in the world of tech as we move into a new year. But if you’re still struggling to find that perfect gift – or aren’t sure what to gift yourself from Santa – as a little Christmas gift from us, here are some of the best tech gifts and gadget round ups from GQ, Metro, The Sun, Glamour and the Guardian. Some of these are certainly on our Christmas wish lists.

Brands trying to strike up an emotional connection with you is nothing new. However, it’s a trend that’s on the up this year and we’ve noticed major brands starting to take this marketing approach.

However, is the timing off? Are consumers savvier and seeing past this marketing ploy? Many huge brands are getting a backlash online.

Instead of just pointing out the brands that are getting the emotional connections wrong, we thought we would make a great learning exercise by flipping people’s comments into advice for others. We’ve been scouring the web to crowdsource the more level-headed feedback and turn this from groans to guidance.


As highlighted in the picture below, people have stated that Nescafe has a fairly confusing approach to emotive advertising. The online commentary indicates that this creative concept is disjointed from the brand offering and, as a result, it’s left a fair few consumers a bit confused about what the whole thing is supposed to be about.

This ad confuses me. You can’t email coffee either.

— Andrew Bloch (@AndrewBloch) July 24, 2015

So what’s the key takeaway here?

The learning from all this Twitter chatter is that brands need to ensure that they are being genuine and not deviating too far from the business proposition.


Many banks seems to be using emotive advertising to create a connection between themselves and their customers. Understandably, after the financial crisis and other scandals, many banks need to work on building up trust with customers. Nationwide, for example, is currently using an advert that sees a scarf returned to a Dad by a member of staff. Online commentary suggests that this is straying too far from the service Nationwide actually offers, opting instead to try and strike up an emotional rapport with its customers.

Now the Nationwide advert is very good, but when did banks stop advertising, you know what they sell? — Connaire Demain (@conn1231) July 19, 2015

So what’s the key takeaway here?

It’s important for brands to gauge the mood of the nation before going down the path of striking up an emotional connection. For banks, it may have been too early. Timing is key. Howard from the Halifax adverts knew how to do it.


The advert from travel firm Airbnb has caused a stir on social media. The advert sees a baby walking through a house, accompanied by a voice over and an underlying message of people being nervous about new experiences. Online commentators suggested this was done with the aim of combating the negative view people may have about having strangers live in your home.

Whilst good natured in its aims to reassure users that strangers living in your house for the purposes of a holiday isn’t weird, the approach on Twitter left many people…unnerved.



So what’s the key takeaway here?

The context and format of your message is vital. The advert was largely applauded by the online community, but the phrases taken from the advert didn’t work on Twitter and left Airbnb open to sarcastic comments. It needed more than 140 characters for this to come across well, so brands need to carefully consider the right channel to strike up that emotional connection.


From reviewing online chatter, Facebook’s attempt is probably the closest to getting it right, with a brand focused advert following the story of friendships. Once people had gotten over the shock of seeing a Facebook advert on TV, some began grumbling.

The core annoyance of those grumblers is around Facebook seemingly taking credit of friendship. If anything, the advert just reminded people of how friendships used to work before Facebook.

I love how the Facebook advert presumes Earth was just 6 billion peripatetic loners ’til it invented friendship in 2004

— Tommy Collins (@collinst26) June 13, 2015

So what’s the key takeaway here?

Be modest!

As communications professionals, we know when it’s done right, it works. Take John Lewis as an example; its Christmas advert was wildly popular (and usually gets it right) and helped the retailer to achieve very healthy Christmas sales.

Brands really run the gauntlet when it comes to their advertising and the resulting effect on public relations. With social media providing consumers with an outlet to air their views, getting it right is more important than ever.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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