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Airbnb’s new ad campaign aims to convince New Yorkers it’s good for their city

New York City hasn’t exactly embraced Airbnb with open arms. The city’s hotels have accused the company of violating several New York state laws and running a series of illegal hotels. In addition, New York legislators believe that many Airbnb hosts are breaking housing laws and the terms of their lease agreements. For its part, Airbnb contends that its service is perfectly legal and if it’s not, it should be.

The company aims to convince lawmakers to revise a 2010 law that forbids New York City residents from renting their apartments for less than 29 days. It also hopes to find a way to pay taxes just like hotels do. In New York City, those who rent hotel rooms are taxed a 14.75 percent occupancy tax, which then goes to the hotel. Airbnb wants to collect that tax for the hosts, so they don’t have to and then pay them back.

So far, lawmakers haven’t warmed to Airbnb’s proposals, landlords continue to argue against the company, and hotels claim that the service is damaging their business prospects. Having hit a legal brick wall, Airbnb decided to take its arguments to the streets.

The company has an advocacy website, is airing several commercials with Airbnb hosts who say the service has earned them much needed extra income, is sponsoring the NYC marathon, and now, it’s posted tons of ads all over the subway.

“New Yorkers agree: Airbnb is good for NYC,” read the ads, which display photos of the hosts from the company’s commercials. The ads are located in subway stations and in the train cars themselves. As with any massive ad campaign in the NYC subway, Airbnb’s ads dominate nearly every advertising service in the train car.

It’s unclear how well the ad campaign will work on New Yorkers, but it’s undeniable that Airbnb does bring a lot of money into the city overall, infusing local businesses with cash, revitalizing neighborhoods that tourists wouldn’t normally visit, and boosting apartment owners’ and renters’ incomes.

According to Airbnb’s statistics, the service brought $632 million into the city in 2013 alone. The company also says that 82 percent of its hosts offer apartment spaces outside of typical tourist zones, which helps spur growth in other neighborhoods. In an attempt to make lawmakers happy, Airbnb also says that NYC stands to make $21 million in taxes if it supports the company.

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