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Facebook and Airbnb: Sheryl Sandberg calls for “thumb-stopping creativity”

created on Thursday 22 Jun 2017

On Wednesday afternoon, a packed out Lumière saw Wieden & Kennedy CCO Colleen DeCourcy in conversation with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Airbnb’s Jonathan Mildenhall, in a lively discussion that got to the heart of the global super-brands’ winning digital strategies.  

In her introduction, DeCourcy outlined how the two brands are “Bringing people together when we’re more divided than ever.” And as mobile pioneers in a time when, as Sandberg pointed out, the average American checks his/her phone 150 times a day, they’re bringing them together on an unprecedented scale.

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Mildenhall recalled his first ever meeting with Airbnb’s chief executive Brian Chesky. “I’m a brand geek, and as soon as he said ‘belong’ I realised that’s a fundamental human driver – probably more than happiness.” As a marketer, he said, he realised just how compelling this idea was. “We can make the world feel smaller and more connected through this sense of belonging.” 

Both brand leaders were keen to stress just how vital community is to their businesses. “Without our community there is no Airbnb,” Mildenhall reminded the audience. In terms of creative campaigns, “User generated video can engage up to six times more than ad generated video,” he added.

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Sandberg agreed, sharing the fact that Facebook’s “‘Canvas’ feature came from the creative community – they wanted the opportunity to share an immersive story.” She also echoed the importance of community from a personal perspective, “After losing my husband I need that connection beyond my friends – I want to talk to people who’ve experienced it themselves.” 

For Sandberg, “Organisations often don’t move quickly enough”. People are spending most of their time on digital – but for creative teams, “usually it’s outdoor, then print, and mobile is often just added in the last ten minutes.” This is particularly misguided, she explained, since “a natively mobile ad grabs your attention in a couple of seconds. We call it ‘thumb-stopping creativity.’ 

“It communicates the brand very quickly and you measure results, not seconds. Taking advantage of that power is so important.”