Top advertising executives at several of America’s largest firms are worried about Elon Musk’s presence at a major marketing conference next week.
On April 18th, Musk will be speaking at the Possible conference hosted by MMA Global, the industry’s leading digital marketing group. He will be interviewed by NBCU’s advertising executive Linda Yaccarino in an effort to get advertisers to return to Twitter, many of whom have done so out of concern for their brands’ reputations.
But, Semafor has received an internal email thread from the board members of the organization which indicates that they are not entirely convinced.
McDonald’s and Colgate-Palmolive, two of Twitter’s biggest sponsors, are worried that Musk’s views on race and the platform’s tolerance of racist speech have turned it into a poisonous environment.
“For many communities, his willingness to leverage success and personal financial resources to further an agenda under the guise of freedom of speech is perpetuating racism resulting [in] direct threats to their communities and a potential for brand safety compromise we should all be concerned about,” McDonald’s Tariq Hassan, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience, penned this.
“Further, all of us who lead our brand’s investments across platforms were required to navigate a situation post-acquisition that objectively can only be characterized as ranging from chaos to moments of irresponsibility.”
In a letter to the team, Diana Haussling, VP and GM of consumer experience and development at Colgate-Palmolive said that she was “both excited for the success of the conference while also mindful of the harmful and often racist rhetoric of Elon Musk.”
“While I am a huge supporter of free speech and enterprise we can not ignore the impact of such hate speech. I especially can’t ignore it as a black woman,” A piece was penned by her.
Albertsons’ senior v.p. of retail media, Kristi Argyilan, warned that the company might pull its sponsorship of the event “if the event moderators do not find the correct balance.” “concerned about the reputational risk for the MMA” but “even more concerned about the harm or hurt this could cause anyone who is part of our community.”
“By giving Elon Musk a stage, we have signed up to broker an important discussion that must be managed with the utmost of care and respect for those most harmed by his actions and inactions,” a piece penned by her.
The executives were vague, but Musk backed Dilbert author Scott Adams last month after Adams called Black Americans a “hate group” and said that the media was biased towards Whites and Asians.
A senior Twitter official didn’t even try to defend Musk on the thread, which is a bad indicator of the company’s standing with advertisers.