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.
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.
The spot flashes black-and-white images of women including filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Julie Dash; actress-writer-director Issa Rae; and documentary filmmaker and activist Jennifer Brea.
“I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission,” Frohman reads in the ad. “Say ‘hero,’ and cast yourself in the lead role… When a woman tells her own story, she lives forever.”
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.
Pictured above: Ava DuVernay in Twitter’s “#HereWeAre” Oscars spot