Stu Royall Tits Boobies Loons Cover

Tits, Twitching and Tweeting

Every now and then a truly viral phenomenon comes along: here, Daniel Benneworth-Gray talks to advertising creative Stu Royall about how he turned a joke on Twitter into a book

Back in February 2021, BBH creative director Stu Royall tweeted a picture of a bird – the Drab Seedeater – with the caption “my favourite species of birds are the ones named by people who clearly hate birds”.

The Drab Seedeater was soon joined by Rough Faced Shags, Monotonous Larks and Red-Rumped Bush Tyrants, and before long the whole thing went viral. One year and thousands of retweets later, the thread has been adapted into Tits, Boobies and Loons, an illustrated book from HarperCollins.

Here, Daniel Benneworth-Gray, a prolific Twitter user himself, talks to Royall about how he managed to turn a joke into a fully-fledged publication.

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Daniel Benneworth-Gray: First of all, be honest, was this planned as a book all along?
Stu Royall: No! I wish I had that sort of influence! It was never the plan. I had a sneaking suspicion it might get a hundred likes or something, purely because everyone likes rude words.

DBG: And now it has over 75,000 – not to mention the thousands of likes and retweets spread across the rest of the thread. Did you notice any particular interactions of turning points that sent it all crazy-viral?
SR: Normally when a tweet does numbers, you can trace it back to one person with a big following sharing it or something like that. This one … I don’t know. I didn’t do it all in one burst; I did a few and left it for a bit and then came back to it and it just started to grow. It really exploded in the evening, and I still have no idea who was responsible! All hell broke loose for about four days – I couldn’t use my phone. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since.