We’re all for unconventional marketing strategies – but Twitter’s recent tiff with the city of San Francisco is a good example of why you need to do your homework before launching a new campaign! 

In its latest marketing venture “Twitter Is,” this last week Twitter installed 100 advertisements around the cities of San Francisco and New York showing user-responses to the question “What is Twitter to you?”. The advertisements portray snapshots of the real tweets with the intention to “amplify th[e] words and th[e] brands,” of Twitter fans.

Twitter Stencil art

Leslie Berland posted photos of the stencil art on her own Twitter account 

Leslie Berland, Twitter’s CMO and Head of People, told Forbes:

The most interesting thing we’ve seen on Twitter is that people love to define what Twitter is in their own words… We literally wanted to manifest their tweets into something tangible and real. I don’t see it as a shift but instead more of our becoming our authentic self.

Ingenious or illegal?

Great idea, right? Unfortunately, the execution was in some aspects not as well-researched as it could have been. A central facet of the installation included strategically-placed stencil art renderings of real tweets around the city of San Francisco – and San Francisco didn’t like it too much.  Apparently, having human feces on the sidewalk is OK, but the city draws the line at unauthorized advertisements on public property. Twitter apologized for the incident, but that won’t stop the city from possibly charging the company for removal of the stencil art.  

Another photo of the stencil art posted on Leslie Berland’s Twitter account

Moral of the story? Ideas are just one side of the marketing coin: execution is just as, if not more important. Be sure to do your research before carrying out unconventional strategies!