Storytelling: How Sanifair and AirBnB Fail at Emotionalisation

Sanifair Video
Screen: Sanifair advert

Storytelling and emotionalisation are core topics in digital brand management and we don’t just deal with them intensively here in our blog. The choice of colour, the right content and should shop systems include emotionalisation as a standard feature, are all questions we pose together with our clients. This isn’t always easy, because apart from excitement and (hopefully) a shopping mood, there is also a whole palette of other emotions you don’t want to awake.

For instance, the cringe factor or fremdscham. This is exactly what happened this week with the emotionally charged toilet video from Sanifair and the Tweets about the new AirBnB campaign, which point out the stalker element.

Sanifair and the Toilet Wonderland

Kids and animals are always a winner…that’s what they obviously though at Sanifair and send a bright little girl into their own ceramic palace. They shot wide and the result was two and a half minutes of pure fascination for public toilets. Including “oooh it’s lovely here.”

Stalker Alarm with AirBnB

The AirBnB approach was more sophisticated, but no less clumsy. The topic of the new “Is Mankind?” campaign: traveling, and the everyday life of other people especially, can widen horizons and help us experience humanity around the world. Even before the official start, there were three pseudo deep and meaningful tweets on Twitter based on the idea.

The reaction in the Twittersphere was quick in the uptake:


Is it still empathetic or the basis for a psycho thriller? They overshot their target with the sentimentality.

Endure Irony or Bring Irony. #GetIt?

The fact is: brands have a hard time building relationship with digital customers. Every attempt creates a sore spot for ironic distortion, and every failure becomes a viral event. No wonder that the first brands are starting to not take themselves seriously and only offer advertising messages with a good measure of self irony. For instance, the Krombach beer ad with cinema favourite Matthias Schweighöfer, with is a parody of a Coca-Cola advertisement. Sanifair is still making the classic mistake of many brands – only talking about yourself. Instead of telling a story, they show advantages they themselves deem important in the hope that this will also interest the customer. AirBnB is one step further. There they’re trying to tap into the thought of a typical customer and stand out from the competition through uniqueness – the classic hotel – at the same time. Sadly, they drove the idea into a wall with pseudo depth. At least brands don’t have to worry about one thing: a lack of feedback. The internet will let you know what works and what doesn’t.

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