During the 90th Academy Awards, an advertisement caught the eye of millions, with the 60-second commercial promoting a message of female empowerment in the form of an impactful poem.
The ad features a poem written and read by New York poet, writer and performer Denice Frohman. As the words in the poem are flashed on screen, various black and white portraits of women appear in bursts, followed by the Twitter logo at the very end. Throughout the commercial some familiar faces appear, including director Ava DuVernay, Insecure creator Issa Rae, filmmaker Julie Dash and documentary filmmaker/activist Jennifer Brea.
“I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission,” Frohman narrates during the spot. “Say ‘hero,’ and cast yourself in the lead role… When a woman tells her own story, she lives forever.”
Twitter’s first-ever ad is being interpreted as a response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which both gained steam and went viral on the social media platform in the past six months especially. While Twitter is working to convey a message that it stands with women, many are criticizing the company for the belief Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey haven’t done enough to properly handle harassment and bullying on its own platform.
This past week, responding to an outcry of such claims, Dorsey acknowledged that the company “didn’t fully predict or understand” the real-world negative consequences that come with being an open and public place of discourse.
“We acknowledge that now, and are determined to find holistic and fair solutions. We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” his statement read in part. “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”
According to Twitter, the company has seen a 50% increase in conversations surrounding women’s rights in the past six months, based on an analysis of terms including “feminism,” “women’s rights” and “gender equality.”
Take a look at Twitter’s first-ever ad, which ran for the first time on television during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, below.