written by: Chan Tsz Kiu, Vivian

A livable model of Van Gogh’s ‘bedroom’ is created to promote the exhibition of Van Gogh in the Art Institute of Chicago, which experienced a spike in public awareness.

Can you think of any correlation between an art museum and a hotel booking website? Last year, the Art Institute of Chicago collaborated with Airbnb for a Van Gogh’s painting exhibition in the US. The Van Gogh Bnb campaign is developed to promote the Van Gogh exhibit in the museum and help people understand the life of Van Gogh. The strategic idea of this project is “Let Yourself In”. The ‘Bedroom’ of Van Gogh’s famous painting is recreated for visitors to rent at just 10USD per night on Airbnb (2 tickets to the exhibition are included). It is a phenomenal success as all bookings of February are sold out within 5 minutes.

Creating buzz to build sentiment in public
The campaign generates a lot of echoes and buzz from the public. Over 200,000 visitors are attracted to visit within the 6 weeks’ exhibition period, which marks the highest museum attendance in 15 years. The Van Gogh Bnb campaign could be considered as is a pioneering creative idea. People are attracted by its creative, innovative and new experience of stepping into Van Gogh’s life by living in his painting.

This campaign has become a global topic; its story is covered by over 100 countries within a week. The Van Gogh’s bedroom photos are widely shared on the social media. Remarkably, the project’s promotion spend including paid media is only about USD$31k but the earned media is up to $6million. 2500 new followers are added to the Institute’s FB in the first two days of the exhibition and online ticket sales boost 250%. The campaign succeeded in creating memorable experience of Van Gogh’s art, building positive brand image for the institute, generated lots of positive word-of-mouth through social media buzz, and after all, achieve solid financial returns.

Close encounter/connection with the brand through experience
Van Gogh’s Bnb allows people to see, to feel and to sleep in the Van Gogh’s ‘the bedroom’. Visitors are authentically engaged on an emotional level to contemplate the mind of a famous artist. “There was no better way to let people inside his mind and his life and his art, more than this room” says Pete Lefebvre, the creative mastermind of the ad agency behind the campaign. People would forget about the Van Gogh’s painting they watched, but certainly people remember the Van Gogh’s ‘the bedroom’.

Photo credit: https://www.dandad.org/awards/professional/2016/art-direction/25610/van-gogh-bnb/

More interaction and engagement
To maintain a dialogue with customers, the art institute starts a blog series of “Ask Vincent”. With which, people could ask questions or comments about Van Gogh’s exhibition.

Benefits to Airbnb
Airbnb, as a partner of the promotion, greatly enhances its image of providing innovative living experience. The campaign is opening up vast opportunities for Airbnb for other collaboration opportunities in other contexts in future.


1. Digital Marketing case Study: Airbnb’s Van Gogh Bnb Collaboration. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.targetinternet.com/digital-marketing-case-study-airbnbs-van-gogh-bnb-collaboration/

2. The Art Institute of Chicago’s Van Gogh Bnb, Kathryn Kao, (2016). Retrieved from https://prezi.com/jek7tfcsi3ut/the-art-institute-of-chicagos-van-gogh-bnb/

3. VAN GOGH BNB – LEO Burnett CHICAGO Cannes Lions 2016., Brand Buffet. (2016) Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyJQNuAppE8&t=25s