Do Twitter’s TV Ads Fall Flat?

If you’re a fan of television, social media, or the internet in general, then you’ve probably seen (or at least heard news about) Twitter’s new TV commercials. This marks the first time that Twitter has dipped its toes into the sea of TV advertisement and likely comes as a result of its recent boost in popularity. If you haven’t seen any of the spots yet, take a look at their first endorsement here before we dive into analysis of the first ad’s ups and downs.

The Good and the Bad

The commercial is short and simple at 16 seconds long, and shows Nascar driver Brad Keselowski taking a picture or video on his phone from his race car, with the message “See what he sees,” appearing on screen, followed by hashtag #Nascar and the Twitter url popping up. This serves to help introduce Twitter’s new hashtag pages, but that’s a story for another time.

If you aren’t interested in Nascar, there’s a chance that the novelty of the ad may go over your head. Earlier this year in February, Keselowski somewhat-famously tweeted a picture from his race car of an accident during an event and gained 100,000 followers within two hours.

While the message and its delivery are basic enough, there is a problem with this approach. If you’re an active Twitter user, or even just a casual tweeter, you’re already familiar with the operation of hashtags and may even have heard the story involving Keselowski. If you know nothing about Twitter, however, you might be confused as to what you just saw. A Nascar driver recording something with his phone doesn’t quite sell the idea of Twitter, especially when #Nascar comes up and doesn’t explain itself whatsoever. However, I feel that the ad is more directed at Twitter regulars (or Twit-literate) as they immediately understand that by simply logging in to the media platform, you can visit @keselowski and live vicariously through his pictures and media.

Somewhat surprisingly, reception of the commercial has been mixed among YouTubers. At the time of this writing, over 75% of viewers “like” the ad, but commenters are more opposed to it, saying things such as “dull and boring – sorry guys” and “Average ad. I’d expect Twitter to do something bigger or at least not as dull/mediocre.”

Could They Have Done Better?

So, with reception like this, how could Twitter have improved its message? For one, it could have chosen less of a niche topic to rally around. Personally, I have few friends who are Nascar fans, and among that group there seems to be only die-hard enthusiasts. If they wanted to go down the sports avenue, why not choose something with broader appeal like baseball or basketball? With NBA playoffs in full swing, a lot of non-Twitter users could easily have been swayed to check out #NBA. It touches on the most appetizing aspect of Twitter: everyone having an equal voice (well, except for those darned promoted tweets). A potentially more effective ad would have shown random passersby on the street simply walking up to celebrities or athletes and having a short conversation with them, sharing pictures/videos on their phones, and then parting ways.

I don’t expect this to be the last of Twitter’s ads, but I certainly hope that future iterations have more impact than we’ve seen so far. What do you think? Are Twitter’s ads effective, or does the company need to work on its advertising skills? Sound off in the comments section below, or check out or more about Twitter.