July 21, 2024

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Elon Musk Visits Cannes Lions to Woo Advertisers

2 min read

As advertising moguls traveled to southern France this week for the Cannes Lions festival — an annual rosé-filled celebration of their industry — the biggest guest was someone who had crudely told many of them to get lost.

Elon Musk and his top lieutenant, Linda Yaccarino, were on hand to persuade brands to return to X in a bid to bolster their beleaguered ad business. But it’s unclear if their efforts worked.

Musk massaged his expletive-filled comments from November. A reminder: At the DealBook Summit, he lashed out at advertisers who had pulled back from X after he had endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

When Mark Read, the C.E.O. of the ad giant WPP, asked Musk about the incident onstage on Wednesday, the X owner responded that he wasn’t referring to all advertisers. “Advertisers have a right to appear next to content that they find compatible with their brands,” Musk said. “What is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platform.” (He added, “I do shoot myself in the foot from time to time, but at least you know it is genuine, not from the P.R. department.”)

Musk met with top ad executives afterward, reportedly including those from the N.F.L., L’Oreal, Qualcomm and Target. Separately, Yaccarino talked up X initiatives including partnering with NBCUniversal to stream events from the Paris Olympics and showing more sports docuseries.

Some things were working in Musk’s favor. The talk of the town was a recent study by the marketing network Stagwell, which found that ads appearing next to content about politics, inflation and crime perform as well as those shown next to business and entertainment news. In other words, fears about “brand safety” may be overblown.

Musk also touted X’s ability to use artificial intelligence to make advertising more effective, including by better matching users with relevant ads. And he said that his social network remains the hub…

Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ravi Mattu, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni

2024-06-20 18:56:54

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