AgencySpy 2020 Hat Tip of the Year: #AdTwitterGiftSwap

By Doug Zanger 

Here at AgencySpy, part of Chez Adweek™, we’ve knocked around the idea of doing more awards. We do know that a good chunk of the community doesn’t really care for them (or doesn’t like Cannes), which is why we prefer to do things that are a little different.

Case in point, AgencySpy Dog of the Year (thank you, Erik Oster and Jess Zafarris, for your work here). We had knocked the idea around, but it was merely a concept. Then, on one difficult day (I can’t remember what sparked it, but we needed some joy), we figured we’d pop the top off of celebrating fur-babies in the middle of the turbo-charged shitfest that was 2020. Sure, we got behind and haven’t announced the Grand Pup award (that’s coming soon), but it was a pleasant diversion, and the spirit of the thing is certainly in the right place.

This brings us to our first annual (maybe) AgencySpy Hat Tip of the Year.


Back in August, like most of us in the biz, Aisha Hakim—now acd at Preacher—was having a rough day and sent out what could have been considered an innocuous tweet:

What it turned into was #AdTwitterGiftSwap.

“I do remember it being a difficult day. Perhaps Covid-19 cases were spiking or maybe a particularly distressing news story was out, but I remember craving something positive and the joy of presents just felt right,” said Hakim. “After a strong positive reaction to the idea on Twitter, I officially opened registration at the beginning of November.”

Hakim asked people to fill out a simple Google form (and not spend more than $30 on a gift). It turns out that 280 people (!) participated. Hakim did the matchmaking by hand, pairing people who may not normally interact or finding some kernels and threads to pair people up.

While watching from afar—and participating—it was pretty clear that this was a perfect way to bring people together. Everyone seemed to research their match because, at its best, Ad Twitter prides itself on having good taste and/or a healthy sense of irony.

Yet, there wasn’t much in the way of “gag gifts.” Everything was thoughtful and interesting and reflected both the gift giver and recipient. I loved my Gritty doll, and I was nervous as hell about what I sent to Julian Rad. But after the USPS finally (thanks, Trump) delivered my gift, I breathed a sigh of relief when it got a thumbs up.

But what stood out most was the outpouring of gratitude. As I scroll through the #AdTwitterGiftSwap posts, I won’t lie; I’m getting a little choked up (which Ad Twitter will make fun of me for, of course).

I see such an outpouring of joy and good spirit—but I also know that it’s been an incredibly tough year for many people on Ad Twitter. We had to write about the latter a lot this year, and it’s one of the toughest things about the AgencySpy job.

Yes, Ad Twitter can be a weird (yet wonderful) place to navigate. There are hard opinions because there are some highly talented people here. It’s also a benevolent and supportive place, and we hope that the momentum that came from a one-month stretch of good like this can make its way to 2021.

We wanted to recognize someone and something that we all could agree on. There’s no question that Aisha Hakim and #AdTwitterGiftSwap brought so much joy to so many people and deserved a hearty AgencySpy Hat Tip of the Year.

(Aisha, please contact us for your frameable, high-quality PDF file. Frame and printing not included.)