Digital Transformation Twitter Social Media

@KFC, @Tide and @Nike: the brands that won Twitter in 2018, according to Twitter

By Ryan Oliver | Head of brand strategy, US/Canada

December 17, 2018 | 18 min read

Sponsored by:

What's this?

Ryan Oliver, head of brand strategy for US/Canada at Twitter, runs down the brands that nailed their microblogging strategy in 2018.


Heinz took to Twitter to hype the launch of Mayochup

Best brand voice

Criteria: the brand that has consistently and strategically been able to define and leverage their own Twitter voice - authentic, fun and maybe even sassy in their Twitter conversation.

Winner: @KFC

KFC has managed to establish its own brand voice by tapping into everyday moments, and surprising and delighting its followers along the way. Most notably, it live-tweeted General Hospital, leaving fans perplexed and wanting more. It’s also complemented the resurgence of the iconic KFC Colonel by utilizing Twitter to spread his message and likeable personality. The brand leverages its TV ads brilliantly, but adds a fun, engaging, and humorous voice to that content on Twitter.

Best digital to physical activation

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

Winner: @SiliconHBO

With the rise of food delivery apps over the past couple of years, TV show Silicon Valley poked fun at this trend with its own app called SliceLine (which, you might notice, rhymes with a certain travel-related app).

In the show, SliceLine finds the cheapest options and delivers the pizza via drone - so why not actually bring this experience to life for fans via Twitter? Well, that’s exactly what it did. On the premiere night of season five, HBO used Twitter to turn a plotline into reality for fans.

Viewers could experience SliceLine by tweeting #SliceLine + the pizza emoji to have a pizza delivered right to their home. Some orders even arrived via drone, just for that extra techy feel. This is a prime example of merging a digital concept into a physical activation that engaged fans can actually experience.

Best c-suite strategy

Criteria: the brand executive best using Twitter to connect directly with consumers.

Winner: Apple’s @tim_cook

Tim Cook really elevated the way he used Twitter this year, largely speaking out about world issues. He even kicked off the Apple event with an “accidental” Tweet, where he was “searching” for his clicker. He uses the platform to communicate with his 11 million followers about everything from Apple’s latest innovations, to beautiful photography #ShotOniPhone, to sharing and educating the public on Apple’s policies, to his personal passions.

Best banter

Criteria: two are better than one, and these brands created buzz through Twitter exchanges that led to cheeky moments or product announcements.

Winner: @Wendys and @LittleDebbie

Nobody is better at Twitter banter than Wendy’s, and Little Debbie welcomed her fellow red-headed friend to a “Twitter talk show” back in March. The two brands interacted with each other in the same back-and-forth you would see on a talk show, providing the perfect forum for engaging and entertaining banter.

Other brands noticed and jumped on board, including Pop Tarts and Moonpie. It was a bit like an improv comedy act that was taking place on Twitter among some of the best brands and voices on the platform.

Best use of live-streaming (video)

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

Winner: @Apple

Apple gave the whole world a glimpse of its new products via a livestream of the #AppleEvent. By leveraging Twitter, it was able to keep fans engaged before, during, and after the event, prompting viewers to heart a Tweet in order to receive updates and reminders on event day. On the day of the event, it also bagged a Promoted Trend and Promoted Tweets in various languages, all driving conversation during a launch among fans and journalists around the world.

Best six-second video

Criteria: the brand that showed a story can be told in even the shortest formats.

Winner: @Tide

Tide won the Super Bowl (and Cannes Lions, and Twitter’s first #BrandBowl...) with its witty ‘It’s a Tide Ad’. However, this was not a one-night spot for Tide, which created an ongoing program for the brand.

It surprised everyone when it brought it back during the current NFL season using notable personalities, including Fox’s entire personality team. The brand used the #TideAd platform with spoofs on-air, and then brilliantly leveraged the content on Twitter in short form.

Its rules expert even used the telestrator to show some really white pants from one of the players on the field, proving that even the shortest forms of content can capture widespread attention.

Best use of creators

Criteria: the brand that leveraged influencers and creators to spread the word on campaigns in new and interesting ways.

Winner: @NBAonTNT

NBA on TNT leveraged Niche, Twitter’s creator community, to partner with local artists in key NBA cities to create original artwork inspired by the teams. The artists shared their artwork via social media, and it was featured in NBA Tip-Off out-of-home ads in various cities. Additionally, the artwork was featured on Twitter in a ‘Heart to Remind’ campaign driving tune-in for NBA Opening Week, and was even part of a giveaway via Fooji, where lucky fans received a team-specific poster. NBA on TNT was able to engage with fans to ignite conversation, foster community and highlight the power of creators to spread the word about the NBA season in unique and novel ways.

Best brand purpose

Criteria: the brand that took a stand, tapped into what’s happening and connected to culture in a genuine, authentic way.

Winner: @nike

One word is all you need to say for this campaign: Kaepernick. Nike took a stand, took a chance and stood for something – and it was marvelous. There was no better place than Twitter for the conversation to start and then unfold on a mass level. Nike was able to utilize a simple image and genius copywriting to spur a worldwide conversation on the platform, all while staying true to its brand.

Best event activation

Criteria: the brand that was able to complement big cultural events and drive rich conversation around those moments.

Winner: @budweiser

Budweiser won our ‘digital World Cup’ through its Bud Man of the Match World Cup activation. It was the most mentioned brand on Twitter during the tournament, successfully leveraging its sponsorship by giving the fans the ability to vote for the Man of the Match at every single contest during the 2018 tournament. It generated 115bn impressions as a result of the campaign, which utilized a custom-built voting platform created through Twitter’s Brand Strategy team. Budweiser and Twitter worked with Fifa on the activation, successfully helping Budweiser in its quest to become the most talked about brand during the World Cup.

Best launch moment

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

Winner: @heinzketchup_us

Heinz lit up Twitter for the launch of Mayochup. It sparked a conversation, invited participation, and generated some of the biggest buzz of the year: it claimed 2.4bn impressions, with 1bn of them coming in the first 48 hours of the launch.

It all started when a savvy traveler tweeted a photo of the Mayochup product from a Kuwaiti grocery store, igniting a fierce debate about whether it should be sold in other countries. Instead of using a simple Tweet to drive conversation, Heinz raised the stakes bycreating a Twitter poll.

The brand asked if it should release Heinz Mayochup in the US, calling for 500,000 yes votes to bring the product to market. The resounding answer? Yes.

Best way to fuel fans

Criteria: the brand that was able to consistently reward its most devoted fans with exclusive content to drive conversation and excitement on Twitter.

Winner: @budlight

There wasn’t a catchier phrase in advertising this year than 'Dilly Dilly' [some may disagree – ed] , and Twitter certainly helped fuel the conversation. Not only did Bud Light produce memorable TV ads, but it repurposed the content perfectly on Twitter.

It had fun with a real-life cease-and-desist letter delivered by a medieval town crier, accompanied by two tickets to the Super Bowl, where it premiered its biggest #DillyDilly ad yet, featuring the Bud Knight. It also made its way onto the field, where the Eagles called a play that would win the Super Bowl, called “Philly Philly”.

There is now a bronze #PhillyPhilly statue in front of the Eagles stadium - and all because of a simple Tweet promising the city celebratory beer if it won the Super Bowl in training camp.

Digital Transformation Twitter Social Media

Content by The Drum Network member:


Twitter is what’s happening and what people are talking about right now.

Find out more

More from Digital Transformation

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +