Advertisers Say They Do Not Plan to Return to X After Musk’s Comments Elon Musk, the owner of X, criticized advertisers with expletives on Wednesday at The New York Times’s DealBook Summit.

Several advertising agencies have indicated that they are not planning to resume spending on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, following controversial remarks made by its owner, Elon Musk. Musk's recent derogatory comments directed at advertisers have led to a significant backlash, with multiple marketing agencies reporting that the brands they represent are standing their ground against advertising on the platform. Some companies have even advised their clients to halt any advertising activities on X, with temporary spending pauses potentially becoming permanent freezes.

Lou Paskalis, the founder and CEO of AJL Advisory, expressed that there is no advertising value significant enough to outweigh the reputational risk of returning to the platform. Musk's contentious behavior, including endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory and publicly criticizing advertisers, has led to over 200 brands suspending their expenditures on X. This has put the company's revenue at risk, with potential losses of up to $75 million in the current quarter.

In a recent interview at the DealBook Summit in New York, Musk apologized for one of his controversial posts but accused advertisers of attempting to "blackmail" him. He went on to discourage advertising on X using explicit language multiple times. X's CEO, Linda Yaccarino, made efforts to address the situation by emphasizing the platform's commitment to "information independence" and inviting advertisers to return. However, industry experts like Ruben Schreurs of Ebiquity and Tom Hespos of Abydos Media doubt that advertisers will align with X's views on free speech.

Musk's dismissive attitude toward advertisers has resulted in brands viewing him as a risky partner. Marketers feel uncertain about how he will collaborate with advertisers and whether he values their opinions. With major brands like Apple, Disney, and IBM pausing their campaigns on X, the platform faces a potential revenue crisis.

In summary, Musk's comments and actions have caused a significant rift between X and the advertising community, with many brands hesitant to resume spending on the platform unless there are substantial changes in leadership or company policies.  

Elon Musk is keen to achieve what no business leader has done before, from mass-producing electric cars to developing reusable space rockets. Now he is blazing another trail most chief executives have avoided: the profane insult.

The Tesla (TSLA.O) CEO told advertisers who have fled his social media platform X over antisemitic content to "Go fuck yourself!" in an interview on Wednesday.

Several business communications analysts said they couldn't remember a similar case of an executive publicly cursing at their customers. The job of a CEO is to do deals, not burn bridges, they said.

"It's openly attacking your customer. That's more the offense than the language itself," said Andy Challenger, senior vice president of outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Musk, Tesla, and X did not respond to requests for comment.

Cases of business leaders using crude language - sometimes for emphasis, sometimes to show informality - turn up on various corporate earnings calls. Last year, the CEO of European airline Ryanair (RYA.I) Michael O'Leary lashed out at planemaker Boeing over lagging deliveries.

In 2018, Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG.N) CEO Jim Hagedorn offered a blue rant about a business unit including that "those bastards are gun-shy as shit right now," according to a recording. Newspaper owner Sam Zell famously told one of his own journalists "fuck you" in an exchange in 2008.

The context of Musk's comment was different, however, as he was questioned about the departure of advertisers from X following his endorsement of an antisemitic post. Musk apologized for it and then cursed and dismissed the concerns of the advertisers fleeing the platform.

Academics who have studied swearing say it can relieve stress, build bonds, or create a sense of urgency. But profane words can also convey a lack of respect, leadership skills, or control, according to a 2017 paper by authors including Yehuda Baruch, a University of Southampton business professor.

Musk's outburst was of the negative type, Baruch said in an interview. His curse was "surely an indicator of a loss of temper and loss of control. It doesn't show stress relief. Someone at his level shouldn't be using the f-word to vent his anger," Baruch said.

Some analysts argue the rise of casual office culture and work-from-home settings have encouraged more swearing on the job. To be sure, Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, said ribald phrases seemed more common 40 years ago and declined as more women entered the workforce.

Cappelli said Musk wishes to see himself as a rock star, not a business leader who needs to take account of many constituencies. Meanwhile Musk's vast wealth means he can suffer financial setbacks at X.

"If it (X) were a public company, he would have been fired a long time ago, but he doesn't care and he's willing to lose a lot of money. The business community can't discipline someone who doesn't care about losing money," Cappelli said.

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