| SAN FRANCISCO, June 11
SAN FRANCISCO, June 11 Twitter Inc aired its
first TV ads to tout its advertising potential on Sunday during
a Nascar broadcast on Time Warner Inc's TNT cable
The ads, produced as part of a partnership between Twitter
and Nascar, come as the six-year old micro-blogging service
seeks to establish itself as a serious social media business,
despite heightened doubts about the sector in the wake of
Facebook Inc's bumpy IPO.
Twitter is hoping to attract major brands to its service by
cultivating the widespread use of hashtags - the keywords in a
tweet preceded by the symbol (#) that denote a tweet's topic -
and promoting hashtag pages as destinations where consumers can
find information or supplemental content about products.
Using Nascar to demonstrate how hashtag pages could work,
Twitter aired six different 15-second spots during Sunday's
Pocono 400 race that introduced the "#NASCAR" hashtag and
directed viewers to the URL "twitter.com/#NASCAR." On the
Nascar's hashtag page, Nascar fans could view content posted by
drivers, their families and racing teams that supplemented the
One commercial showed driver Brad Keselowski taking a photo
from inside his race car with the tagline: "See what he sees"
while another showed the view from the helmet cam of a pit
In a blog post previewing the Nascar hashtag page, Twitter
executive Omid Ashtari wrote that "throughout the weekend - but
especially during the race - a combination of algorithms and
curation will surface the most interesting Tweets to bring you
closer to all of the action happening around the track, from the
garage to the victory lane."
Jim Tobin, the president of marketing firm Ignite Social
Media, said Twitter's introduction of hashtag pages mirrored
Facebook's brand pages, where companies can post products and
Twitter spokesman Gabriel Stricker said Nascar did not pay
for its curated hashtag page, but added that Twitter did not
plan any more similar partnerships.
Twitter boasts 140 million monthly active users who post 400
million tweets a day, CEO Dick Costolo said this month, but it
remains unclear how much revenue the company brings in given its
As Twitter's usage numbers have climbed, the hashtag has
morphed into somewhat of a pop cultural symbol since it was
first devised in August 2007 by Chris Messina, a designer at
Google and early Twitter user.
Wryly appending "#winning" to tweets, for instance, became a
fad in early 2011 after actor Charlie Sheen emphatically used
the word to describe his own highly-publicized, cocaine-fueled
Meanwhile, companies have looked to tap into the phenomenon
by increasingly introducing hashtags as part of marketing
campaigns. Results, though, have sometimes been mixed.
In early 2012, McDonald's sought to give its ingredient
suppliers a human face by posting their quotes to its Twitter
feed with the hashtag "#McDstories."
What began as potato farmers describing their pride in
working with the international fast-food chain quickly backfired
as Twitter users hijacked the hashtag to share their own
MacDonald's stories of a markedly different flavor: Fingernails
found in Big Macs, episodes of food poisoning, snarky jokes
The chastened chain quickly shut down the campaign.
"As Twitter continues to evolve its platform and engagement
opportunities, we're learning from our experiences," Rick Wion,
McDonald's social media director, said at the time.