• Advertisers are reportedly communicating to one another about the concerns they have on Elon Musk and Twitter
  • It is unclear which of Musk's actions they are talking about
  • It was reported last month that Musk's "antics" seemed to keep advertisers out of the platform

Some of the world's top advertisers such as McDonald's and Colgate-Palmolive have reportedly been debating privately about Elon Musk's actions on Twitter and the "chaos" within the social media company that has led to numerous concerns on whether it is still the right place to advertise or not.

Musk is set to meet with advertising executives next week, and he is expected to try convincing advertisers who have abandoned the platform to return. However, some top advertisers are talking to each other about concerns ranging from racism and "brand safety compromise," as per a private email thread among board members of MMA Global obtained by Semafor.

MMA Global is a digital marketing association that organized the "Possible" conference where Musk will deliver a speech on April 18, according to the outlet.

In the email thread, Diana Haussling, Colgate-Palmolive's vice president and general manager of consumer experience and growth, told other advertising executives that while she was excited about the conference's success, she was "also mindful of the harmful and often racist rhetoric of Elon Musk."

McDonald's chief marketing and customer experience officer, Tariq Hassan, was more straightforward about his concerns, stating that the Tesla CEO's "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."

Hassan went on to remind advertisers that all brand leaders "were required to navigate a situation post-acquisition that objectively can only be characterized as ranging from chaos to moments of irresponsibility."

"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," Kristi Argyilan, senior vice president of retail media at Albertsons, wrote in the email thread.

In response to the advertisers' concerns, Twitter's vice president of global sales and marketing Chris Reidy thanked the group for their feedback and offered to set up meetings with Musk, Semafor reported.

It is unclear which of Musk's actions the advertisers were referring to in the thread.

Bloomberg reported late last month that the SpaceX founder's Twitter "antics" seemed to keep advertisers out of the platform.

Among the earlier issues that advertisers complained about were the mass layoffs within Twitter that resulted in difficulties communicating with new account managers and salespeople, as per the outlet.

As of recent weeks, confidence has decreased about Musk's ability to stop the social media platform from becoming a "free-for-all hellscape," according to former Twitter employees, industry insiders and some advertising executives Vox spoke with. The outlet noted that a major concern was how the billionaire seemed to have allowed Twitter to become "a place where people can post racist, sexist or otherwise harmful speech without much consequence."

Some companies have also raised concerns about getting affiliated with the tech mogul after he posted offensive tweets like the one that mocked a Twitter employee with a disability, Vox reported. Musk has since apologized for the said tweet.

In February, CNN reported that more than half of Twitter's top 1,000 advertisers last year stopped ad spending on the social media site in the first weeks of January. According to the data provided to the outlet by digital marketing analysis firm Pathmatics by Sensor Tower, around 625 top advertisers pulled ads in January. The list included Merck, Jeep, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo and Unilever.

The Twitter advertiser exodus last year was led by some of the world's biggest companies including Volkswagen and General Motors. As news of advertisers pulling out of the platform broke out, reports emerged about weekly advertising bookings in Europe seeing a "significant decline."

Meanwhile, Musk continues to put things back in order in terms of Twitter's ads business. Earlier last month, he said at a Morgan Stanley conference that the platform would focus on improving ad relevance. In the said event, Musk admitted that the ads business had been "very difficult" in the past four months but that he was "optimistic" moving forward.

In an open letter to advertisers which was sent on the same day he completed his acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion, Musk explained that his reason for acquiring the social media platform was due to the importance of having a "common digital town square" for the "future of civilization." He added that Twitter would become "warm and welcoming" to all users.

Illustration shows Elon Musk photo and Twitter logo
More than half of Twitter's top advertisers have reportedly pulled their ads from the platform. Reuters