Twitter bought its first-ever ad during the Oscars, with a spot airing during Sunday’s telecast tying its brand to a message of female empowerment — an implicit response to Hollywood’s recent sexual harassment scandals.
The 60-second spot promotes the hashtag #HereWeAre. The idea Twitter wants to get across to Oscars viewers: Its platform can serve to elevate and amplify “underserved” voices. Recent movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have germinated and gone viral on the social network.
That hashtag, #HereWeAre, first appeared late last year to announce a group of female leaders scheduled to hit Twitter’s 2018 CES stage for an event focused on women in tech. The event grew out of an earlier tweet from Twitter Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland, who urged CES to #changetheratio after noting the lack of women slated for keynote speeches.
Twitter tweeted the ad Sunday, making it public when it aired on the ABC telecast:
At the same time, Twitter has been blasted by critics who believe it hasn’t done enough to curb harassment and bullying on its own service — including abuse directed at women. Last Thursday, CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that Twitter didn’t anticipate the scope of negative behavior the platform has enabled and that the company hasn’t addressed it quickly enough.
Twitter’s Oscars ad on ABC, bookended by the company’s bird logo, features a poem written and read by New York poet, writer and performer Denice Frohman.
Sunday’s black and white TV spot, Twitter’s first Academy Awards television ad, leverages #HereWeAre as part of a broader call for female empowerment. It features women’s faces flashing across the screen including filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Julie Dash; actress-writer-director Issa Rae; and documentary filmmaker and activist Jennifer Brea as writer Denice Frohman recites one of her poems: “I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission … Say beautiful, and point to the map of your body. Say brave, and wear your skin like a gown … Say hero and cast yourself in the lead role.”
She continues, “If this poem is the only thing that survives me, tell them, this is how I happened. Tell them, I built me a throne. Tell them, when we discovered life on another planet, it was a woman — and she built a bridge, not a border.”
According to Twitter, the company has seen a 50% increase in conversation on the platform around women’s rights in the past six months, as compared with the prior six months (based on an analysis of terms including “feminism,” “women’s rights” and “gender equality”).
Frohman actually wrote the poem last year for Twitter, and the company created and promoted a similar 69-second video in July 2017 with the hashtag #SheInspiresMe, with photos of women taken at the Cannes Lions conference in France.
Both the Oscars ad and the earlier video were created in-house by the Twitter Studio team, led by creative director Jayanta Jenkins.
The #HereWeAre hashtag was created by Twitter CMO Leslie Berland in her campaign leading up to and during the 2018 CES calling attention to the lack of female keynote speakers at the annual consumer-tech convention.
On Sunday, Frohman is attending the 90th Academy Awards in L.A. as Twitter’s guest, along with Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s global head of culture and experiential, who helped launch the #HereWeAre live-streamed panel discussion at CES.