Product / ServiceAIRBNB
CategoryA13. Not-for-profit / Charity / Government
EntrantVML Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Idea Creation VML Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Production VML Sydney, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Debbi Vandeven VML Chief Creative Officer
Aden Hepburn VML Executive Creative Director
Matt Geersen VML Creative Director
David DiVeroli VML Strategy Director
Ellyn Dupuis VML Account Director
Chris Scott VML Associate Art Director
Tahlia Calvisi VML Senior Copywriter
Josh Peacock VML Business Lead
Jennifer Kemp VML Executive Staff Director
Louise McQuat VML Senior Art Director
Matt Barber VML Producer

The Campaign

The Nightlight Project is an initiative from Ronald McDonald House Charity & McDonald’s using the Airbnb community that seeks to provide accommodation to families when RMHC houses have reached capacity. This idea activates communities of hosts around hospitals, donating their properties to the cause. This ensures that every family has a free place to stay, every night - even when the Ronald McDonald House itself is full. The initiative also enables RMHC to raise wider awareness - driving donations, which enables the charity to build more houses, in turn accommodating and supporting more families in need.

The Brief

Pro bono, no media initiative

Creative Execution

We initiated the project with a trial, based around one Ronald McDonald House in Randwick, Sydney. This House is especially busy being situated next to Sydney Children’s Hospital and regularly turns away up to 30 families every week. Working with Airbnb, we created a message template which asked hosts (selected based on certain criteria such as rating), to donate their property, for free, to a family in need. When the house reached capacity, this message was sent out to the hosts, through the Airbnb hosting platform. When the host accepted, their property was added to a list in a dedicated Airbnb portal, only accessible to RMHC staff. This portal allowed them to browse the properties, select the most appropriate accommodation option and then coordinate between host and family to activate the stay.

Describe the success of the promotion with both client and consumer including some quantifiable results

The Nightlight Project meets an immediate need by facilitating overflow accommodation for families with seriously ill children. It has solved a critical business problem for Ronald McDonald House by allowing the charity to welcome more families into a caring environment. It does not replace the need for increased donations to the Ronald McDonald House Charity to build further accommodation. It has been proven as a viable option for the charity, with dozens of families having already been part of the initiative, and providing great feedback to help shape the program for the future. The purpose of the Nightlight is not to build awareness or create brand recognition. The Nightlight is a solution for families in desperate and stressful times, easing their mental burden and helping provide stability in an otherwise uncertain time. Since the Nightlight began, no family has been turned away from Ronald McDonald House in Randwick.

Explain why the method of promotion was most relevant to the product or service

Whilst our customer journey is an unorthodox one - having a child fall seriously ill, the Nightlight Project provides an incredibly positive brand experience in an otherwise difficult time. By being able to instantly activate alternative overflow accommodation when families arrive at Ronald McDonald House, the Nightlight Project removes stress, anxiety and fear of not having a place to stay while their child seeks treatment in hospital.

Interviews with Ronald McDonald House managers uncovered that every single House turns away multiple families daily, with some houses turning away almost 30 families a week at their busiest period. These families then have to look for alternative accommodation with research showing that hotels in the area are often booked up at short notice, and prohibitively expensive for families from lower socio-economic groups. At the same time, our research into the Airbnb network around hospitals and their Ronald McDonald Houses uncovered a relatively high number of vacant properties, even at short notice. We realised that if we could find a way to activate these properties at short notice, we’d be able to create a community of support around any hospital, which could house the overflow of families when a Ronald McDonald House is full.

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