Feature

Adland Tweeters

It has been a big year in advertising's relationship with Twitter, with the social media site jumping into bed with two of the industry's big four holding companies. In April, Twitter brought in Publicis Groupe to work out how to best make money from its users and, earlier this month, struck a deal allowing WPP to mine user data. Of course, the attraction is mutual. Adlanders have been in thrall with the site almost since its inception. Here, we ask a selection of creatives, suits and other industry professionals who have made an impact on the site what makes them tick... or, rather, Tweet.

Adland Tweeters

Rory Sutherland

@rorysutherland

Vice-chairman, Ogilvy & Mather UK

Following
5,686 Followers 28,520

Rory Sutherland might be the most popular UK adman on Twitter. He says he has no idea why he has so many followers. It probably helped that he was an early adopter: he says he found out once that he was user number 400,000 or something.

"I even remember where I was sitting when I first heard about Twitter," Sutherland says. "And I grasped it straight away. I’ve always been a fan of things that are deliberately simple."

Sutherland’s popularity on Twitter might also have something to do with the fact that he straddles two communities – behavioural science academics and marketers. This also means some of his Tweets can be esoteric – but that’s the beauty of Twitter, he argues: "It’s OK to Tweet about things that are irrelevant to most people."

Sutherland is fiercely protective of the social network site and sees it as being in a different league to competitors such as LinkedIn ("a confederation of the needy") and Facebook ("too many people showing off pictures of cakes"). He likens it to the difference between a conversation in Wales and one in the southern counties.

"In Wales, and places like Ireland and Liverpool, people talk to show off their conversational skills and just for the sheer joy of holding a conversation," he explains. "But in the southern counties, it seems to be more about promoting yourself. Twitter is like conversation in Wales. Facebook is English conversation."

Follow if Given his number of followers, there’s a good chance you already do
Famous followers Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Nicholas A Christakis

Typical Tweets
What does it cost to host a religious channel on Sky? I want to launch Amish TV - just a man with a beard telling you to turn off the set.

How come it’s ok for cyclists to dress like perverts? Drive around in a white van wearing a gimp mask and it’s a whole different story.

Trevor Beattie

@trevorbmbagency

Founder, Beattie McGuinness Bungay

Following
205 Followers 1,750

Trevor Beattie spent a year Tweeting under a pseudonym before his friends rumbled him, but he won’t reveal the name of the fake account. Beattie, who has since set up a feed in his own name, is hardly prolific on Twitter – don’t expect more than a handful of Tweets a week – and has a small following given his profile within the industry. That said, the former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and David Bowie’s director son, Duncan Jones, both follow him, which must count for something.

Beattie doesn’t often Tweet about advertising, unless it relates to a bugbear of his – for instance, the word "footfall". Rather, he’s more likely to Tweet about what’s going on in the news or about space flight and military history.

Beattie believes Tweets are the new press ads: "You’ve got a headline, maybe an image, and you’ve got people’s attention for a second." But he has no truck with most promotional Tweets, calling them ugly, although he did like some of Specsavers’ attempts.

In general, Beattie prefers following women on Twitter. "If you’re a man on Twitter, you have to be sardonic and dry wit, but the best women writers are care-free, wild and not worried about what people think."

"I just try to be observational," Beattie says of his own style. "I like to think my Twitter style is just me. If you read my Twitter, then there’s no need to meet me. And it’s a lot less messy."

Follow if You want to hear amusing and interesting insights, but not very often
Famous followers Buzz Aldrin, Duncan Jones

Typical Tweets
D-Day. 69 years ago today. We will remember them.

Creationists. How do you explain the fact that I’ve been in this pre-production meeting for half a million years?

Paul Silburn
@paulsilburn

Executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi

Following 240 Followers 1,130

Paul Silburn wasn’t an early adopter of Twitter. In fact, he says he only started using it to find out where his agency’s strategy director, Richard Huntington, was going every day.

It was the London riots and Twitter’s role in keeping the general population abreast of what was being set on fire and when that made the Clapham dweller Silburn really see the site’s value.

"I still don’t use it for business," he adds. "Well, some business stuff, but I use it mostly for things that I find interesting or silly." Indeed, Silburn’s Twitter style is best described as irreverent and cynical, and there’s little going on for those hoping to be educated – but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

He says one of his most popular Tweets was a photo of Prince Charles holding a gun, with a soldier holding his nose in the background, accompanied by the caption: "Prince Charles farts while firing a gun."

Silburn is adamant that the biggest benefit of Twitter, however, is that it makes watching bad TV bearable because you can talk about how awful it is with the rest of the nation. "I loved the Eurovision Song Contest this year," he says.

Follow if You are a misanthrope with a sense of humour
Famous follower Christian O’Connell

Typical Tweets
I was shocked to hear that a man died after being attacked by beaver. Now I know why lap dancing clubs have that distance rule

The Duke of Edinburgh has nipped back into hospital. Is this a warning that Paul McCartney is about to play in public again?

Tess Alps
@tessalps

Executive chair, Thinkbox

Following 644 Followers 3,903

When Twitter users prematurely announced the actor Johnny Depp’s death for the second time, the Thinkbox executive chair, Tess Alps, decided that she would no longer believe anything she read on the site until it was confirmed by a respected organisation. To this day, news feeds remain among her favourite accounts to follow.

Alps says she uses Twitter mostly as a personal account – particularly when it comes to her garden – but it does have a heavy professional bent. On the whole, she’s pretty positive with her Tweets. "It would be disastrous if I said ‘that was shit’ about a TV programme," she says. That said, her most popular missive to date was when she offered the phrase "talking utter Schmidt" about the Google boss Eric Schmidt’s declaration that YouTube had overtaken TV.

Otherwise, she spends her time engaging with journalists and trying to debate with internet fundamentalists who dismiss TV as a thing of the past, even though some 40 per cent of all Tweets relate to TV. Indeed, Alps says she follows AKQA’s founder and digital evangelist, Ajaz Ahmed, when she wants to wind herself up.

"I really like Twitter so far," Alps says. "It’s easy for me to get my opinions out there and I feel I’m a little bit cleverer for being on Twitter. As Bruce Daisley [Twitter’s UK director] says, it’s not a social network, it’s an information network."

Follow if You believe strongly in – and are interested in – the future of telly
Famous followers Alan Rusbridger, Gabby Logan, Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Typical Tweets

We offer you the new phrase "Talking utter Schmidt" for when someone is talking crap/ignoring facts @ericschmidt #youtube #ericschmidt

If #Google doesn’t sell any advertising in the UK does that mean @iabuk (& @ad_association) should amend their revenue figures? #seriousquestion

Dan Shute
@creature_dan

Managing partner, Creature London

Following 2,417 Followers 8,270

Before Dan Shute became @creature_dan, he was @adlandsuit, one of the most profane and talked-about Tweeters in adland. Shute started on Twitter when it was still called a "microblogging" site and was one of the first in the industry along with Sutherland. He began by using Twitter to promote his blog – AdLandSuit – but, during the 2009 Ashes tournament, he let loose with an angry stream of consciousness and found that people liked it.

One Tweet related to the London riots, which read "To be ‘a protestor’ you need to be ‘protesting’. The official term for someone who ‘steals things and burns shit’ is ‘a cunt’", was retweeted more than 2,500 times – even by the Olympic gold-medal cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Since becoming @creature_dan, Shute is no less vitriolic (he insists his swearing always has a purpose), but he says he does have less time on his hands and can no longer "do Twitter properly". He also uses it more for promotion now, admitting that it’s something he would have hated himself for a couple of years ago.

"Twitter can either be an online community, a repository of information and stuff, or just a place about showing off how awesome you are," he says. "I’m moving more towards that last one now."

Shute describes Twitter as being "like talking on a trampoline" – you can have serious conversations, but they will still feel faintly ridiculous.

Follow if You wished The X Factor was more like The Thick Of It, or possibly vice versa
Famous followers Boris Johnson, Britney Spears, Sharon Corr

Typical Tweets
Our first Carling ad lives. Please feel free to tell me it’s fucking awesome. (We didn’t make the Zest one.) carling.com

They should make the next Doctor a child. Or a lesbian. Or a Frenchman. Or a horse.

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