Today, people can travel from State College to Philadelphia with just a touch of a button.
Today, people can stay in homes and cultures abroad, not just hotels. With new and constantly
evolving advancements in technology, companies like Uber and Airbnb have made these
concepts not only possible, but ubiquitous. Uber, a popular transportation company that
manifests itself in one app, provides everyday people a cheap and efficient alternative to public
transportation and private car ownership. Airbnb, an online marketplace, connects tourists to
local homeowners renting out their rooms. Beyond monetary value, both Uber and Airbnb pair
convenience with community and challenge people to fulfill their potential as human beings and
members of society. Uber’s “What’s Your Destination?” commercial and Airbnb’s “Don’t Go
There. Live There” campaign reflect the freedom of enterprise and choice; the commonplaces of
community, family, and the home; and the pursuit of dreams.
The rhetorical context of each commercial encourages civic participation through the
companies’ products. Uber launched its campaign amidst the chaos of numerous lawsuits,
heightened rivalry with other ride-sharing options, and the celebration of its fifth-year
anniversary. This time setting demonstrates the evolution of the company and reinforces Uber’s
focus on the humane side of enterprise and society. The company emphasizes its deep morals by
placing its value on individualism and freedom rather than profit and convenience.
On the other hand, Airbnb’s recent campaign underlies the age of mass tourism and the
industry of leisure traveling. In the past decade, traveling to other countries has become more
and more popular as people constantly seek the cheapest opportunities – mass tourism. Mass
tourism is characterized by long lines and tourist traps. By introducing the “Don’t Go There.
Live There” commercial in this age, Airbnb promotes awareness for cultural appreciation.
Moreover, Airbnb released the video in April, preceding the months of summer vacation for
adolescents and people with adventurous, young-spirited souls, the target audience. The
company strengthens its appeal to logos by establishing the problems of mass tourism in a more
immediate context; it challenges the audience to forego tourist traps and superficial experiences
to assimilate into the authentic, local culture and community.
Both companies reveal the importance of home, family, and the community. Specifically,
each campaign depicts common scenes that appeal to the emotions of a wide range of audiences.
For example, in Uber’s video, a father picks up his daughter from school. As the father departs
from the car, the girl’s face lights up in delight and she smiles as she runs into her father’s arms.
This evokes sympathy in the viewers, as both the children and the parents can relate to this
aspect of family. The audience empathetically understands the bond between parents and young
Furthermore, Uber’s video also concentrates on a high school couple riding in an Uber
car to a school dance. The camera emphasizes the couple’s connected hands, a symbol of
adoration, before broadening to the couple having fun with friends and smiling. Since most
people remember a high school dance, such as prom, and their feelings of childhood love, this
scene evokes nostalgic feelings in the viewers and implies that Uber values the customer; the
couple clearly trusted Uber to make their night special.
Similarly, the Airbnb commercial portrays tourists in authentic scenes abroad. The
campaign consistently equates Airbnb to “your own home.” For instance, the video reveals a
diverse couple sharing a bakery snack on a couch, a family playfully laughing together, and
children building blanket forts in a living room. By exhibiting actions that people can perform in
their own houses, Airbnb emphasizes the concept of home. The company highlights comfort and
identity, inspiring assimilation into culture and community in foreign regions.
In addition, Uber and Airbnb utilize pathos and the concept of hospitality to support the
commonplace of community. Uber allows people to help people; in the commercial, the video
depicts a driver that actively involves herself in her customers’ moving-in process. She drives
them to their new home and opens the house door for them while they carry heavy furniture
inside. In return, the passengers contribute to her dream of becoming a musician; the scene shifts
to the aspiring musician running to her bandmates indirectly pursuing her dream. This implies
that the extra funds from her job allows her to fulfill her ambitions. The people-helping-people
concept appeals to both pathos and ethos. Passengers will be more willing to ride with drivers
that have the same morals as them. They will also enjoy the sense of satisfaction in helping the
workers pursue their dreams. Thus, Uber inspires community and interaction.
For Airbnb, the host of a local home offers a tourist a place to stay and the tourist offers
the host extra funds for his or her needs. By offering the customer a local home, the Airbnb
employee allows the customer both comfort and deeper cultural understanding. By staying in the
host’s home, the tourist supports the host and brings diverse perspectives to the society. The
commercial displays the house and tourist greeting each other with friendly smiles, sharing
groceries, and cooking together. Airbnb thus fosters a sense of community through healthy
interaction and genuine hospitality.
Moreover, both commercials display the freedoms of enterprise and choice to embody the
commonplace of community. The companies grant workers the freedom to select their own
working schedule and hours of operations. This clearly demonstrates the compassion and
humanity of Uber and Airbnb; this emphasis on choice and flexibility allows the companies to
call on workers to pursue their dreams, such as becoming a musician or running a restaurant.
Finally, both Uber’s “What’s Your Destination?” campaign and Airbnb’s “Don’t Go
There. Live There” campaign employ parallel structure in words and organized, inspirational
music to maximize the appeal to civic participation. The voiceover in Uber’s commercial
declares, “We’re all going somewhere. We’re all working towards something. We have people to
see, possibilities to pursue, and moments, big and small, to live” (Lowman, “What’s Your
Destination?”). The anaphora in these phrases appeals to both logos and ethos. The parallel
structure itself is a logical appeal to the audience. The audience understands that humans are
indeed ambitious and live lives, which is something that Uber capitalizes on. The specific
repetition of the word “we” plays on the credibility of the company. By placing itself in the
context of everyone else, Uber demonstrates that the company understands and supports
In addition, Airbnb similarly utilizes parallel structure in the commercial. The concise
statements consist of “Don’t go to Paris. Don’t tour Paris…don’t do Paris” (Sandilands and
McNicol, “Don’t Go There. Live There”). The repetition of successive phrases increases the
appeal to reason. When the commercial opens with the condemnation of selfie sticks, crowded
tour buses, and Segway tours, Airbnb logically challenges the viewers to participate in authentic,
unique vacations instead of superficial, common ones.
The music in the commercials depicts a pathetic appeal of inspiration. Uber incorporates
light, structured, two-beat music into the commercial in order to establish a lighthearted
atmosphere. This appeal to pathos provides continuity and supports the voiceover; the consistent
rhythm inspires participation in society. Airbnb’s music contributes to a different side of the
commercial. The company cleverly weaves lyrics in different languages together to demonstrate
the global perspective and provide a comfortable context for the homes.
Uber’s “What’s Your Destination?” campaign and Airbnb’s “Don’t Go There. Live
There” campaign embody the commonplaces of community, freedom, pursuing dreams, family,
and the home. The commercials utilize the rhetorical strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos to
solidify the importance of each commonplace and to increase the customer base. In addition, the
companies employ specific syntax and music rhythm in their advertisements to engage the civic.
By exposing the deeper meaning of humanity and the community, Uber and Airbnb call on
people to participate in human society.
Don’t Go There. Live There. Dir. Anna Sandilands and Ewan McNicol. YouTube. YouTube, 19
Apr. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
What’s Your Destination? | Uber. Dir. Josh Lowman. YouTube. YouTube, 01 June 2015. Web.
16 Oct. 2016.