Twitter Puts Visual Hashtags on a Sweeping Series of Issue-Themed Outdoor Ads for the ElectionRead Now
By Tim Nudd
A week out from Election Day, Twitter is launching a big out-of-home ad campaign that uses visual hashtags—i.e., the hashtag symbol paired with images—to position the site as the place where conversations are happening about the real issues at stake on Nov. 8.
The first ad in the series actually launched a few weeks back near the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey, targeting commuters driving into New York City. That ad showed hashtags along with Big Brother-like shots of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's eyes, along with the Twitter logo.
Now, almost two dozen more ads are rolling out. But in stark contrast to the first ad, the new ones show photos relating to the issues in the election, not just the people running for president. Those issues range from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Syrian crisis to guns, marijuana, the environment, gay rights, gender issues and more.
Adweek spoke to Jayanta Jenkins, Twitter's new (and first-ever) global group creative director, on Monday about the campaign. He said the minimalist approach, including the visual hashtag, is meant to "humanize and give depth to the conversations" happening on Twitter.
"The less you say, the more you convey," he said. "We started with the candidates. It was a really nice way to kick off this work, which is now about the issues. If you think about the news cycle that's been happening around the election, it's all been about the personalities. It's been Clinton this, or Trump that. A little bit of what's been taken from us is just the conversation around the issues that we're actually voting for."
This election is a key moment for Twitter in its attempts to position itself as the world's premiere live news service—and a preferred destination for commentary about that news. After all, the Clinton-Trump battle has been perhaps unmatched in political history in terms of generating big news and conversation around both the candidates and the issues.
"It's a huge cycle for us," Jenkins said.
Out-of-home, he added, was the perfect medium to engage with people this way.
"Just think of all the brands that have used out-of-home in a really powerful way at big moments for those brands," Jenkins said. "Think about Apple when they did the 'Think Different' work. I think the out-of-home medium is a really beautiful and powerful way to humanize tech brands. Out-of-home, for us, is a great way to get people to look up, off their devices, and remind them of the conversation that's happening on Twitter. You can use less to say more."
In a blog post, Jenkins adds: "The election is playing out live on Twitter, where people can hear directly from the candidates, their supporters, the media and everyone in between. Because Twitter is open, it's the place for people to see and discuss the issues from every perspective. This campaign highlights the top issues being discussed on Twitter—it reflects different sides and doesn't take sides. As they always do on Twitter, people will bring their own point of view to the images that can be seen today around NYC."
The billboards are going up in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. See much more of the creative below.
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By George Slefo
Twitter said Wednesday that it had debuted its first live stream broadcast, featuring live game play from Wimbledon, but those hoping to see Roger Federer take on Marin Cilic wouldn't have found the match there.
The stream, a chance for Twitter to test its streaming capabilities before it carries 10 NFL games in the upcoming season, was actually commentary, highlights and replays.
That's because it was made possible by a deal with ESPN, which gave Twitter permission to show replays and highlights. For live matches, you still had to turn to an ESPN property.
"Twitter is increasingly a place where people can find live streaming video, and that includes exciting sporting events like Wimbledon," Twitter said in a statement. "This live stream is an extremely early and incomplete test experience, and we'll be making lots of improvements before we launch it in its final form."
Twitter did not sell any ads against its Wimbledon coverage, a company spokesman said.
Twitter has a lot riding on the success of the NFL package, for which it paid about $10 million.
The spokesman said Twitter has sold more than 60% of its NFL inventory to marketers, adding that it closed a deal with Bank of America during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France.
Meanwhile, Twitter is in the final stages of closing "about 10" different partnerships with media providers to stream live content on its platform, a person familiar with the talks told Ad Age.
And as the presidential election nears, at least one of those partnerships will focus on politics. The source declined to identify potential partners for the streams.
For marketers, not all of the live stream offerings will include the opportunity to advertise, at least not initially, the person familiar with the talks said. The company wants people to get familiar with the product and will only include advertising where it makes sense, such as sports, for example. But it does plan to make money from all its live streams eventually.
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A. Brent Lovell