When marketing leaders rose up to respond to the lack of solo female keynotes at tech conference CES earlier this year, Twitter CMO Leslie Berland commandeered the company's own women-in-tech event—and the hashtag #HereWeAre—to remind the tech world that powerful women were there, and deserving of the stage.
Now that hashtag is part of the social media company's first Oscars ad, which premiered Sunday.
The ad will be familiar to many, however: It's nearly identical to a digital-only video that Twitter released over the summer called #SheInspiresMe, which features poet Denice Frohman reciting her verse: "I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission ... Say beautiful and point to the map of your body. Say brave and wear your skin like a gown or a suit. Say hero and cast yourself in a lead role … When a woman tells her story she lives forever."
In the video from over the summer, those words appear with actresses like Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, former Under Secretary of State Charlotte Beers, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, DJ Hesta Prynn and musical artist CharliXCX.
The Oscars version features Hollywood figures and industry leaders like filmmaker Ava DuVernay, actress and director Issa Rae, director Julie Dash and documentary filmmaker and activist Jennifer Brea. It also features the #HereWeAre hashtag. The spot was created internally.
The spot drew a strong response on Twitter, where many users lauded the ad for being "stunning" and "powerful."
There was one problem. Many of them thought the ad was for Dove, which has its own "Real Beauty" campaign, launched by Unilever in 2004.
not gonna lie, thought it was a dove commercial. But was in tears with appreciation! #HereWeAre— kmcv (@writerkellymcv) March 5, 2018
The #HereWeAre name was also given to Twitter's own event at CES, which was live-streamed during the conference and now has more than six million views. The program included female executives from Recode, GE and Black Girls Code, among others.
Still, some viewers had a pointed complaint: some found irony in the fact that the platform has a history of falling short when it comes to protecting its own female users from harassment.
The irony of the #HereWeAre hashtag on a website that fails to protect women from incessant harassment is...a lot— rae paoletta (@PAYOLETTER) March 5, 2018
LOVED the poem, +participation of @ava and other transformational women, in @twitter's feminist-sounding #Oscars90 TV ad. But, after being in coalitions begging Twitter to take sexist (&racist) harassment/doxxing/abuse seriously on the platform for YEARS, #hereweare seems hollow.— Jennifer L. Pozner (@jennpozner) March 5, 2018
Twitter says it will also be running a print ad in the New York Times on Monday.
The company says it has seen a 50 percent increase in conversation around women's rights in the past six months compared with the prior six months, looking at terms like feminism, women's rights and gender equality.