On Sunday, I tweeted…
— Gary Coby (@GaryCoby) November 13, 2016
We had an “upfront deal” with Twitter, which is a common setup where we commit to spending a certain amount on advertising and in exchange receive discounts, perks, and custom solutions.
Our upfront deal was signed in August.
We also had several promoted trends reserved/purchased:
CUSTOM HASHTAG EMOJIS
Twitter—or well, Dorsey—restricted us on the most unique part of our deal, the custom hashtag emojis, of which we had two.
It’s an emoji tied to a specific hashtag. When anyone uses that hashtag, the emoji is automatically added at the end.
We planned to launch both of our emojis for the first debate. One was a contrasting emoji for the popular #CrookedHillary. They were going to be featured in our promoted trend for maximum exposure.
ROUND ONE — FIRST DEBATE
At the beginning of September, I outlined several possible emoji concepts for the TW creative team to make.
About 2 weeks before the 9/26 debate, the TW team provided several designs that were pre-approved by their legal and policy teams. One included was a hand receiving a moneybag:
Next, I met with TW in NY, at Trump Tower, to tweak the already approved emoji designs. Pushing the envelope, the hand/moneybag emoji evolved into a running stick figure with a moneybag:
The TW team thought this had a good chance of getting approved since all that changed was a hand to a stick figure.
Sure, it was more aggressive and eye-catching, but that was the goal. I was fine with the hand/moneybag emoji, which was already approved, so I figured we might as well see if we can go further.
Well, I was wrong.
Day after day, TW wouldn’t give us an official yay/nay and my contacts inside TW told me the new design was causing a lot of heartburn and “big meetings” with folks at the top.
I wasn’t too worried because our plans could continue with the hand/moneybag emoji, even if they denied the more aggressive evolution.
Then, finally, a couple days before the first presidential debate, TW reached out for a call with Dan Greene, VP of US Sales.
To me, this was clearly a BS reason that was made up to give them an out. I was also confidentially told from TW staff that the running stick figure emoji reached Adam Bain, COO, and he personally put a stop to it.
Given that TW had pulled back a previously approved emoji and disrupted our strategy for the debate just days before, we cancelled our promoted trend (costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars).
TRYING AGAIN in GOOD FAITH—SECOND DEBATE
The next plan was to launch with the second presidential debate. TW, admitting wrongdoing for how they handled the first, extended a $50K discount (“make good”) so we would agree to keep our next trend and give this another shot.
I took them at their word and proceeded. Foolish of me.
ROUND 2 RUNDOWN:
We told them it was BS and what they were doing with a public platform was incredibly reckless and dangerous. We voiced that it was clearly a political move and telling us otherwise was just insulting.
Jack maintained their talking points and stayed on message. He also pushed back on it being one-sided, because they were “stopping this feature for ALL political campaigns.”
But, the only other campaign large enough to have this type of deal would have been the Clinton campaign and my contacts inside TW informed me that they did not have one in place.
So basically, “cancelling for all political campaigns” really meant cancelling ONLY for Donald J. Trump’s campaign.
In return, I cancelled our 10/9 and 11/5 promoted trends. Further, I pulled all persuasion and lead gen spending, costing Twitter millions of dollars.