After over three years in the post of chief marketing officer of Airbnb Inc., Jonathan Milednall is leaving the company. Milednall was well-known for promoting diversity in advertising, driving the brand through controversies the company faced and obtaining massive growth for the home-rental company.
Milednall is reportedly leaving Airbnb to start his own consulting firm to help companies navigate an increasingly complex marketing business. Milednall said that he decided to start his own firm, named 21st Century Brand, after being approached by many high-profile startups and venture capital firms seeking marketing advice.
“I am 50, and I probably have one last chapter of my career left, and I feel I could make a bigger contribution to the marketing industry,” said Mildenhall, whose career has included stints at Coca-Cola Co. and various ad agencies.
Mildenhall’s vision is to help fix marketing, which is having a “crisis of confidence” because of the changes in media consumption and the growing importance of data and technology.
Mildenhall helped build Airbnb’s brand awareness. Under him the company’s ad spending in the U.S. alone rose by 60 percent to $64.7 million, according to estimates from Kantar Media. The spending figure doesn’t include some forms of digital advertising and the international expenditure.
“The tailwinds and headwinds have increased, so the responsibility with partnering with our public policy team is greater today than it was when I got to the company,” Mildenhall said.
Mildenhall’s resignation comes a few weeks after the company selected Wieden & Kennedy as its creative agency of record, replacing Omnicom Group’s TBWA. Typically, the change of a company’s chief marketing officer is followed by the selection of a new agency, but Airbnb said there would be no change and noted that Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was deeply involved in the selection of Wieden & Kennedy.
Airbnb, which is currently valued at $31 billion, is working with personnel search firm Spencer Stuart to find a new chief marketing officer. Mildenhall said he would continue to work with Airbnb on a consulting basis.