Event Innovators 2019: Helen Stoddard

Stoddard leads Twitter’s activations at major events like SXSW and Cannes Lions, and also produces the social platform’s consumer events that put user tweets in the spotlight.

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Photo: Helen Stoddard

At its core, Twitter is a platform for a convergence of online conversations and thoughts. The goal for Helen Stoddard is taking these conversations offline and bringing them to life in engaging ways.

As the head of global events for Twitter, Stoddard leads the brand’s experiential marketing efforts at events like South by Southwest, C.E.S., and Cannes Lions, and the social media giant’s public consumer activations. Stoddard said her love for events stemmed from volunteering backstage at community theater productions in her hometown of Orem, Utah, when she was a child. "[My career] has all been connected by the fact that I really loved storytelling and was obsessed with the nuts and bolts of it," she said. 

After studying communications at the University of Utah, Stoddard moved to New York for internships in entertainment and TV production. Her career in experiential marketing began when she planned brand events and campaigns for Toys "R" Us for six years. Before moving to Twitter in 2016, Stoddard previously was vice president of event marketing for Nickelodeon. 

Twitter's #TwitterBeach activation at Cannes Lions this year included a custom foosball game inspired by the Women's World Cup.Twitter's #TwitterBeach activation at Cannes Lions this year included a custom foosball game inspired by the Women's World Cup.Photo: Howard Sayer

“What was important to us in 2019 is that we were doing intentional storytelling and focusing on what Twitter in real life feels like," Stoddard said of the events she helped create for Twitter this year. 

In 2019, Twitter’s noteworthy events included a beachfront activation at Cannes Lions that rendered online discussions about Game of Thrones and the Women’s World Cup into an iron throne made of boardwalk wood and a foosball game, respectively. The brand also held the #TwitterHouse at South by Southwest, a space that hosted diverse programming such as a conversation with the cast of Barry, a live taping of BuzzFeed’s AM2DM, and a brunch on International Women’s Day featuring Lupita Nyong’o.

At SXSW, Twitter embraced a bright southwestern aesthetic for its #TwitterHouse space with bright patterns, cow print stools, and potted cacti. The activation was produced by NA Collective.At SXSW, Twitter embraced a bright southwestern aesthetic for its #TwitterHouse space with bright patterns, cow print stools, and potted cacti. The activation was produced by NA Collective.Photo: Courtesy of Twitter

“The spectrum of everything that happened at South by Southwest really showcased Twitter’s super power of connecting different conversations, moments, and people that normally may not bump into each other,” said Stoddard. 

Stoddard also spearheaded the brand’s recent out-of-home campaign, “Twitter Is,” which incorporated more than 100 real tweets in subway ads, chalk stencils, and a pop-up candy store in New York. Housed in a greenhouse-style trailer, the surprise activation served passersby candy labeled with real user tweets; these included lollipops with the label “Twitter is actually a lollipop that lasts forever.”

The Twitter Is pop-up candy shop featured color-coordinated tubes of popular sweets. The colors were labeled with different tweets about candy.The Twitter Is pop-up candy shop featured color-coordinated tubes of popular sweets. The colors were labeled with different tweets about candy.Photo: Jonathan Hokklo

Stoddard said Twitter will continue to lean into tweets and user conversations for their events. She noted the brand already plans to create moments around events like the Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics in 2020.

“To be able to take someone’s tweet, which may have just been a toss-off moment in their mind, and bring it into the physical world was really exciting,” she said. “You’ll most likely see that in 2020. The tweets will be front and center in everything we’re planning.”

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