Twitter's campaign "See what's happening" earned acclaim for its beautiful, clean, simple, and engaging approach. Prior to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Twitter launched a massive out-of-home campaign using visuals of hashtags, specific images, and no tagline. This unconventional approach not only won Twitter the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2017 but also solidified its status as the king of outdoor advertising.
According to Leslie Berland, Twitter's CMO, up to 90% of the population was aware of the brand. However, a majority of them neither used Twitter nor understood its basic purpose. Many believed Twitter was a direct competitor to Facebook, while others thought tweeting daily was a necessity, which they had nothing to tweet about. Twitter's brand positioning was unclear, and it faced increasing competition from platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, resulting in stagnant or declining user numbers.
The campaign aimed to rectify two common misconceptions about Twitter, thereby rejuvenating user growth.
The campaign aimed to provide a fresh perspective on Twitter, emphasizing its purpose and showcasing the diversity of activities on the platform. It wanted to highlight that everything happening on Twitter revolved around users' lives, emphasizing that Twitter is the place for users to stay updated on everyday stories.
The campaign centered on the concept of hashtags, a distinctive feature of Twitter, to convey that Twitter is the quickest source for updates worldwide. From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics, Twitter is where real-time conversations happen.
Television Commercial (TVC): The first ad emphasized Twitter's role in spreading information, be it political or social. It also highlighted Twitter as the originator of trends like hashtag usage, featuring notable hashtags such as #PokemonGO, #BlackLivesMatter, and #LoveNotHate.
Out of Home (OOH): Twitter swiftly responded to public interest during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election by placing its first billboard in the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey. This billboard featured a thought-provoking image of Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's eyes locking gazes, peering down at commuters. Subsequently, Twitter placed numerous billboards across key U.S. cities, featuring hashtag symbols and imagery spanning topics from news to pop culture.
Twitter's minimalistic approach, focusing on hashtags, effectively communicated a wide range of discussions surrounding the U.S. Presidential election. The billboards presented multiple facets of each issue while subtly urging the American public to form their opinions on the topics. Twitter's succinct and impactful campaign visuals adorned cities across the United States.
The campaign won the Grand Prix in the Outdoor category at Cannes Lions 2017, cementing its position as a groundbreaking advertising initiative.
Twitter's "See what's happening" campaign demonstrated how simplicity and powerful messaging can reshape brand perception and garner prestigious industry awards. By emphasizing its role as a platform for real-time updates, Twitter successfully redefined its identity and reignited user interest.