Half of Twitter’s top advertisers flee as Elon Musk welcomes Trump back

Half of Twitter’s top advertisers flee as Elon Musk welcomes Trump back
Elon Musk in 2018 (Wikimedia Commons)

While billionaire Elon Musk has reinstated the Twitter accounts of insurrectionists and transphobes like Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have pulled ads on the microblogging platform over the last two weeks, according to The Washington Post and Media Matters.

Analyzing data from Pathmatics, a digital marketing trend research company, the publication found that vehicle maker Jeep; food makers Mars, Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz, Nestle, and Kellogg; telecommunications corporations AT&T and Verizon; fashion brand Chanel; hoteliers Hilton and Marriott; auto manufacturers Chevrolet and Ford; pharmaceutical giant Merck; and beer brewer Samuel Adams have all stopped advertising on the site since Musk took it over.

“Mars started suspending advertising activities on Twitter in late September when we learned of some significant brand safety and suitability incidents that impacted our brand,” the company wrote to the Post. The other companies didn’t submit statements.

While Musk has been laying off and firing Twitter employees in order to ostensibly save money and make Twitter profitable, it is still heavily dependent on ads. “Nearly 90 percent of the company’s $5 billion in revenue [in 2021] came from advertising,” the Post reported. Collectively, the companies invested over $750 million in advertising on Twitter in 2022 alone, Media Matters reported.

The ad cuts are particularly notable considering that many companies spend their end-of-year budgets during the holiday season in order to lure customers. But since Musk has increasingly presented himself as an unpredictable right-wing public figure, companies seem increasingly worried about being connected to his personal brand.

“Twitter, for most of these brands, has never been a critical part of their ad buy,” Andrew Lipsman, an Insider Intelligence analyst who covers retail and e-commerce, told the publication. “It’s a big enough channel that they are going to get those dollars, but it’s one of the easiest pools of spending to remove.”

In early November, Musk alienated advertisers by promising to “name and shame” any companies who pulled ads from the site. He also damaged some companies’ public images after pranksters used Twitter’s new blue check verification system to imitate them and publish false and offensive messages under their brand names.

Musk has since pulled back his name-and-shame threat in a letter to advertisers, promising companies in a letter that Twitter wouldn’t become a “free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

Concurrently, civil rights groups have been pressuring the site’s top advertisers to commit to pulling their ad dollars if Musk undermines the website’s community standards and allows hate speech and disinformation to proliferate on it.

If Musk’s welcome of Trump and Greene is any indication, toxicity will indeed proliferate on the site under the guise of “free speech,” causing even more advertisers to flee.

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