Twitter reveals the most creative brand campaigns of 2020

Sophie Trinder, head of brand strategy at Twitter UK, and Lindsey Turner, head of Twitter ArtHouse EMEA, pick the most creative uses of the platform over the past year.

Twitter: brands showed a wealth of creativity on the platform in 2020
Twitter: brands showed a wealth of creativity on the platform in 2020

2020 will go down as one of the most significant years in history and it unfolded in real time in the modern-day history book: Twitter. Twitter is where many of the events of the past year have broken first and where people have expressed their thoughts and conversations in a real-time roller coaster of emotions. 

Brands and businesses have had to adapt within this context to survive, and some haven’t. When it comes to brand communications, the word “authentic” – although often overused – has never been more important. 

Here are some of the best examples we’ve seen on Twitter this past year.

The brand that nailed the launch moment

Criteria: The brand that creatively used Twitter to launch a new product or campaign 

Winner: @cadburyuk – #TwirlOrange

Just because 2020 has largely sucked doesn’t mean all campaign launches did, too. Our research showed that 90% of advertisers still wanted to move ahead with their launches in H2* but nailing the right moment has been critical. 

Cadbury timed its launch of the Twirl Orange perfectly, in a month when people should have been getting excited about Glastonbury tickets going on sale. The brand’s agency, VCCP, and Twitter aimed to release the Twirl Orange as if it was as big an event as the festival’s tickets coming out.

Cadbury tapped into the frustration and angst it had seen on Twitter around the struggles and cravings for a Twirl Orange and created an “only on Twitter” presale through a live stream showcasing people’s Tweets begging for a Twirl Orange. All people had to do was reply to the live stream, which was full of frenzied Tweets to request one of the limited 10,000 bars.

The campaign was one of the most successful launches to date, with the chocolate bars running out in just five minutes. And how did it compare with Glastonbury hype? #OrangeTwirl got twice as many mentions in two days than #Glastonbury did in the whole month, prior to tickets going on sale last year.

*Advertiser Perceptions COVID-19 Impact Reports, Wave 5, US May 2020

Best connection to culture

Criteria: The brand that was able to connect with What’s Happening in a culturally relevant and unique way 

Winner: @Nike

Always the brand to drive resonance and power in unforeseen life moments, Nike has been “with us in it” this year. 

During the first UK lockdown earlier this year, and with sport on hold, the brand pitched the perfect Tweet to encourage us to keep dreaming while inspiring us to “play inside to play for the world”. This powerful sentiment spread across the internet within seconds of the Tweet being posted, when it was picked up by millions of people across the world.  

Six months later, Nike supported the shift in public life with our return to some norms by reaffirming the importance of sport. It showcased the indomitable spirit of an athlete through the #YouCantStopUs film, with seamless transitions depicting some of the most inspirational journeys in sport. Nike timed the film’s release to coincide with a renewed sense of optimism and shared a unifying message that we can get through this whatever it takes.

Best brand purpose

Criteria: The brand that took a stand, tapping into what’s happening in culture in an authentic way

Winner: @SolaceWomansAid

@SolaceWomansAid, a brand that has a socially committed purpose to fight domestic abuse, saw a response from the community that they were trying to help. With the alarming reality that one in three women between the ages of 16 and 59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and that it almost always happens behind closed doors, it aimed to bring this #HiddenAbuse into the spotlight. Through an innovative use of the Hide Replies product feature, Solace revealed the hidden story behind a selfie that appears to be a happy couple. The campaign was the charity’s most-liked and retweeted Tweet of all time, but most importantly it received a 48% increase in calls for help, and 700 women found the courage to speak out for the first time.

Best brand voice

Criteria: The brand that has consistently and strategically been able to define and leverage its own Twitter voice

Winner: @KFC_UKI

KFC has consistently been able to make people smile amid the chaos. The brand managed to adopt a clever, jovial and light-hearted tone of voice to address lockdown woes. This was kick-started with a challenge for fans to stay at home and recreate their beloved KFC meals from their own kitchens. It then humorously critiqued the Colonel’s recreations, while the #RateMyKFC campaign caused quite a stir with the public.

The brand then made waves with its comeback campaign, which featured its pixelated logo. By drawing attention to the change of logo, the campaign cleverly made the brand even more relevant since “finger licking” was certainly out of the question. This was a clever way to solve a problem while reinforcing its slogan and strong brand.

Best digital that should have been a physical activation 

Criteria: The brand that brought the magic of Twitter into real life by converging digital and physical

Winner: @BBCGlasto

Although we have been physically distanced this year, in some ways we’ve been more socially connected than ever before with friends, family and even brands. Brands such as the BBC have found creative ways to recreate real-life experiences in a virtual world.

Although Glastonbury didn’t happen in real life, the BBC launched something spectacular on Twitter to celebrate 50 years of the festival.

Twitter and the BBC created a “threadventure” of Tweets that took people on an epic and nostalgic Glastonbury journey. The thread allowed fans to explore key moments from previous festivals. Depending on the Glastonbury memory lane they chose to go down, people were able to stop off at defining performances from over the past 50 years.

Best purpose-driven creative content

Criteria: A brand that used clear, visually compelling creative content to launch a purpose-driven campaign communicating an important message

Winner: @GOVUK #StayAlert 

Although we’re all completely over the phrase “unprecedented times” to describe 2020, we can’t deny its validity. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people were seeking information and trying to understand what was happening and how to stay safe, turning to official channels and organisations for updated information. 

The government needed to ensure it was communicating with the public as clearly as possible using simple messaging, straightforward visuals and frequent updates. 

As part of its #StayAlert campaign, Gov.uk worked with the Twitter ArtHouse team to create video assets to cement the messaging of staying alert. By launching this campaign on Twitter, with visually compelling and creative content to simplify Covid-19 guidelines, Gov.uk was a leader in communicating this important messaging in a relatable and easy to understand way. 

The video assets rolled out over several months, communicating different messages and guidelines as the situation evolved. Gov.uk used the bespoke videos on its handle and across a variety of Twitter ad products, including Promoted Trend, Spotlight and Promoted Video. Many of these assets were among their best performing on the platform. 

Best feed-stopping creative content 

Criteria: A brand that showed a story can be told in artistic, eye-catching short formats that engage audiences on the feed

Winner: @BMWUK

BMW is an industry leader in PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) technology, and as other brands have started to develop their own PHEV range, BMW UK wanted to stand out and remind loyal customers and car enthusiasts of its product line. It was looking to connect with the green conversation on Twitter to raise awareness of its line through feed-stopping visuals and easy-to-understand messaging about key benefits. 

Through ArtHouse, BMW UK partnered a premium 3D studio to create a video featuring the flagship car in its PHEV range. Its goal was to demonstrate the car’s ability to use both petrol and electricity through a dynamic and engaging visual video. This is a great example of a brand successfully telling their story in an artistic, eye-catching short format to engage with audiences on Twitter.

Best use of live video 

Criteria: A brand that took the live experience on Twitter to a new level, bringing consumers into the fold in innovative ways

Winner: @PaddyPower #PPGolf Shootout

“2020 is cancelled”: a tweet and sentiment felt by us all. With in-person events cancelled this year, going live on Twitter became a more powerful tool to connect virtually. Since we couldn’t all be under the same roof to celebrate our favourite sports, concerts, festivals and other events, brands and marketers were eager to find ways to get their biggest moments in front of audiences. 

By partnering the Twitter ArtHouse Live team to bring key moments to life, some brands provided temporary lockdown relief through entertainment, and connected with consumers tuning in from their homes.

With Twitter packed full of passionate sports enthusiasts, Paddy Power knew it had a captivated lockdown audience hungry for entertainment. The Paddy Power Golf Shootout was a perfect live content fix. 

As lockdown rules began to ease in the UK, Paddy Power was one of the first brands to bring live golf back to our screens in June. With five golf pros and five celebrities, Paddy Power set a series of challenges and events to create a day of unmissable content. With Twitter’s live-streaming capabilities and Carousel Page, the brand broadcast a morning and afternoon session, plus highlights from the day in a single, immersive experience, allowing viewers to toggle between videos and digest all the news in one place.  

Paddy Power expertly took the live experience on Twitter to a new level through this wildly entertaining #PPGolf Shootout live stream – a brilliant way to bring viewers into the fold in an innovative way.  

Best use of optimisation 

Criteria: A brand that was creative with refreshing existing assets and messaging to perform best on Twitter

Winner: Square Enix @PlayAvengers #Reassemble

Avengers Assemble – or #Reassemble in this case. Square Enix wanted to drive fan engagement and opt-ins for the new Marvel Avengers game, @PlayAvengers, by creating a fun, thematic and interactive journey for fans on Twitter. As a gaming brand working with one of the world’s most-loved IPs, it had a plethora of creative assets at its fingertips but wanted to ensure it was building an asset best optimised for the Twitter feed. 

With some help from IBM Watson technology the campaign enabled Avengers fans to discover which Avenger they were most like based on their tweet history. Fans could then build their favourite squad of superheroes.

Best connect creative content

Criteria: A brand that listened to the conversation and responded with attention-grabbing, artistic creative content to connect with that conversation through the feed 

Winner: @AmexUK #ShopSmallUK

Many small businesses were hurt by lockdown restrictions. Helping small and local businesses has been a significant topic of conversation on Twitter. 

Amex UK wanted to help. As restrictions were lifted earlier in the year, its #ShopSmallUK campaign aimed to connect with conversations around shopping local and supporting small businesses in the UK, as well as raise awareness of its annual Shop Small cashback offer, which it extended from the usual two-week period to 10 weeks this year. 

The brand partnered Twitter ArtHouse to create an attention-grabbing, artistic video in support of #ShopSmallUK. The creator who designed the video incorporated real merchant names into the piece and Amex supported talented creators who are themselves small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Amex UK shared the creative video asset from its handle and secured a Twitter First View and Spotlight to increase awareness and reach.

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