Airbnb still on the hunt to replace Mildenhall as chief marketing officer

Worldwide: Airbnb remains without a chief marketing officer after almost a year as its former top marketers, Jonathan Mildenhall and Alexandra Dimiziani prepare to launch their creative consultancy, Twenty First Century Brand.

Since Mildenhall announced his surprise departure from the role almost 12 months ago, a replacement has yet to be found and nor has one been found for Dimiziani, who left in January.

Mildenhall has outlined his ambition to launch a “marketing practice” in Twenty First Century Brand, but did not mention that Dimiziani would be a co-founder of the firm with him.

The agency, which has recruited a number of former Airbnb employees and marketers from TBWA\Chiat\Day (Airbnb’s old agency of record), will officially launch later this month.

At the start of the year, Mildenhall said he was still working for Airbnb in a personal capacity by developing its premium service Airbnb Plus and searching for his own replacement.

He added that he wished his link to the firm would be ‘ongoing’ but was unclear at the time whether Twenty First Century would later offer consultancy services to Airbnb or its global creative agency, Wieden+Kennedy.

Twenty First Century brand’s website said it would help ‘the world’s most innovative’ companies manage ‘marketing for transformational growth’ across four areas: financial value, consumer value, cultural value and employee value.

Although Mildenhall and Dimiziani are listed as the consultancy’s sole co-founders, it is believed others were involved in launching the business.

This includes:

Neil Barrie, former chief strategy officer at TBWA\Chiat\Day, who is listed on LinkedIn as the co-founder and managing partner of Twenty First Century Brand.

Ex-Dropbox marketer, Cam Ferrin, who led the development of Airbnb’s global brand strategy from 2014 to 2017 is listed as an associate partner of the business.

Rachael Holbrook, who worked with Mildenhall at both Airbnb and Coca-Cola, has been hired as head of content and production at Twenty First Century brand. She was Airbnb’s global head of production until May this year but according to LinkedIn, she is now a “creative consultant” for the travel brand.

One employee who has remained in Airbnb’s marketing department is Geoff Seeley – the executive who was appointed as media director before Mildenhall’s departure last year.

Seeley was initially given the title of director of global connections and media activation but this has been expanded to include ‘global marketing’ on his LinkedIn profile, suggesting he may have assumed Dimiziani’s responsibilities.

An Airbnb spokesperson said the search for a new CMO was ‘ongoing’ and an announcement was imminent.

Airbnb has also invested heavily in creative content since appointing Wieden+Kennedy but was forced to cancel plans to host a promotional sleepover on The Great Wall of China after protestations by Beijing authorities.

Under Mildenhall’s stewardship, Airbnb made its name by producing punchy, creative marketing pieces in reaction to political issues such as Donald Trump’s travel ban and introducing anti-discrimination rules to help the LGBT community travel in peace.

Mildenhall also addressed diversity issues by calling for creative directors from more diverse backgrounds to join the business before his departure.

Airbnb recently appointed Ann Mather, who has worked as the chief financial officer for Pixar, to serve as an independent director for the business.

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