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Airbnb’s Super Bowl Ad Is Not What It Seems, Critics Say

February 6, 2017, 9:20 PM UTC

One of the more memorable ads in last night’s Super Bowl belonged to Airbnb, which aired a second quarter spot that many saw as an implicit rebuke of President Trump’s recent immigration ban.

The ad, titled “We Accept,” shows a montage of faces of different nationalities while an uplifting melody plays, and a caption about inclusion appears across the screen.

“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept,” the text reads.

The ad proved to be a public relations coup for Airbnb as the New York Times and others called attention to the commercial and to the speed with which it was put together.

“Airbnb made that Super Bowl ad in one day—all to send a message,” gushed NBC in a story that lauded the home-rental company for its role in the vanguard of tech companies opposing President Trump’s controversial order, which banned refugees and certain immigrants.

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The Times, meanwhile, noted how CEO Brian Chesky and the Airbnb’s other co-founders had not intended to produce a Super Bowl ad, but worked to whip up the ad in three days—”an effort that normally takes weeks or even months”—upon learning there was still ad space available.

Not everyone, though, came away impressed. Jeff Bercovici, a longtime tech journalist, said on Twitter (TWTR) that the story of Airbnb racing to put together the ad was “not true,” pointing out that the footage came from an earlier Airbnb campaign—one dedicated to combatting alleged discrimination by its hosts.

Bercovici also suggested the Super Bowl ad was opportunistic and reminiscent of other aggressive public relations stunts by Airbnb.

A spokesperson for Airbnb, however, said the allegation is unfair. While conceding the company did indeed borrow footage from its earlier video, the spokesperson said Airbnb’s decision to adopt came about spontaneously last week, and that the founders did have a hands-on role getting it ready in time for the Super Bowl. He also drew attention to the $4 million the company recently pledged to help displaced people across the world.

Whatever the company’s motivations, however, Airbnb is likely to emerge a winner in the aftermath of Super Bowl LI. It produced a timely ad that many people are talking about, and is likely to win it goodwill from many viewers.