Airbnb Apologizes For Tone-Deaf Hotel Tax Ads, Will Take Them Down “Immediately”

For the past couple of hours, Airbnb has been getting slammed on social media for a San Francisco bus stop ad that was shared on Facebook. How bad was it? People (including Martha Kenney, who first shared the ad) started speculating that it may have been hoax, perhaps posted by someone who wanted to make Airbnb look bad.

But nope, it looks like this is a real Airbnb ad. Here’s what Christopher Nulty, who manages the company’s public affairs efforts, told me:

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.

airbnb ad

Here’s the text of the ad:

Dear Public Library System,

We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.

Love, Airbnb

Airbnb apparently took out the same ad in Union Square. And there are ads in a similar vein around San Francisco, pointing to Airbnb tax revenue and different pieces of city infrastructure (like bike lanes and parking meters).

This campaign comes as the company has been fighting a San Francisco ballot initiative, Proposition F, which would place restrictions on short-term rentals.