'What's happening' in Twitter's new ad? Creatives unpack

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 15 August 2016
Twitter refreshes brand - takes aim at non-users

Twitter made headlines across the globe with its first consumer facing brand campaign since 2015.

The ad aims to better articulate what Twitter stands for and encourage use with the tagline, “see what's happening in the world, right now”.

It also had another purpose – the campaign was released the day before the company unveiled lacklustre financial results after struggling to maintain user growth and build audience dollars over the past several years.

Clearly, Twitter has big plans for the brand platform, but will it work to change perceptions of the brand? We ask some of the best minds in Australian creative what they think.

DT chief creative officer Jonathan Pease says one of the benefits of the new approach is that its meaning and ambition for the brand is crystal clear. Pease contrasted it to its last major campaign in 2015 which received widespread backlash for its confusing meaning.

However Pease says the problem with the ad is that the brand proposition feels dated in a world where information is available from a range of sources at the touch of a button.

“When people want to go out and find what's happening they don't need to be dedicated to any one place,” Pease says. “We use a smorgasbord of different sources and that's really what the interest has brought – the ability to go everywhere quickly and to find out what is happening from a whole bunch of different sources.

“So the idea that Twitter has let itself up as the place to go and find out what is happening feels dated to me.”

J Walter Thompson and Webling group digital creative director Jay Morgan agrees that the purpose of Twitter has been unclear in recent years but says the new ad does a great job of bringing its news credentials to life.

“Just ask yourself, what does Twitter do that no other platform does well? Breaking citizen news on all topics that matter. It’s the collective truth told by thousands of concerned citizens.,” Morgan says. “The thing is though Twitter didn’t spend enough time finding it’s place in our lives and communicating that clearly to us.

"This new campaign goes some way to reminding us that Twitter is an instant news platform - 'What’s happening now’. It’s literal and concise, it works.”

DDB Melbourne creative director Robbie Brammall also likes the strategy noting that “Twitter is great for getting an instant read on what's happening in the world”.

“However, this execution will struggle to move the needle,” he says. “The style feels very generic, and the branded window frame device is derivative of a very famous Time magazine campaign - so originality is not its strength. And that’s a shame, because you’d think if anyone had the right to break the advertising mould, and do something fresh and iconic, it would be Twitter.”

Pease says creatively the ad is a let down. The problem, he says, is that any other new organisation could put their logo on the end of that creative and it would still make sense.

“I just feel like we've seen that ad before,” Pease says. “It felt a bit lazy if I were being totally frank. It's not offensive, not ugly and not worthy of turning off but certainly I don't think it's going to draw a whole new user base in or invigorate current users.”

“They're operating like an older, slightly less tech-oriented business by running an ad like that. You look at some of the work Snapchat is doing – they're communicating by what they're doing and the way their augmenting their product.” Morgan says the ad is a good start but it now needs some action.

“I just hope they go a little further now and re-educate us on how to get the most out of it,” he says. “Maybe then we'll know what Twitter stand for again.”

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