Posted by Neal Thurman • May 3, 2023 11:59:09 AM
Last week, Elon Musk addressed the MMA's inaugural POSSIBLE event in Miami. The event featured high level marketers including Kellyn Kenny of AT&T, Angela Zepeda from Hyundai, Heather Stewart from General Motors, William White from Walmart, and many more. Despite the presence of so many influential marketers, the most anticipated session of the conference was Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships at NBCUniversal, interviewing Elon Musk. Celebrity power aside, Mr. Musk has been at the center of controversy after controversy since his, well, controversial acquisition of Twitter last year.
Throughout the session, Ms. Yaccarino tried to draw Mr. Musk out on his approach to brand safety and suitability at Twitter and seek reassurances that Musk’s presence at the conference signaled a willingness to partner with the industry to create an environment where marketers could feel comfortable spending their ad dollars. In response, Mr. Musk, as seems to be his wont, was a study in contradictions. He seemed eager for marketers in the audience (and beyond) to reengage with Twitter but wasn’t at all receptive to the concept of them having any influence over how the platform is run. He touted gains in brand safety, especially as it regarded the presence of online hate speech, while holding fast to not removing brand unsafe content from the platform when it was identified.
Overall, it was unclear what Mr. Musk’s purpose was in attending the POSSIBLE event. It certainly wasn’t to reassure marketers that he understood their concerns and had taken them to heart as he plots the evolution of Twitter from social platform to “everything app”. It also isn’t clear that he provided any new information to marketers that would influence them to change whatever their current stance is on advertising on the platform. Marketers who are currently actively engaged on Twitter likely didn’t hear anything that would push them away from the platform while those who are on “pause” or have abandoned the platform certainly didn’t hear anything likely to cause them to dive back in.