Ben Bold
May 18, 2023

‘Advertising is awesome and everyone should do it’: Tesla's Elon Musk U-turns

Musk has previously said that he hates advertising but acknowledged that Tesla was often ‘preaching to the choir’.

Musk: 'So we’ll try a little advertising and see how it goes.' (Getty Images/Frederic J Brown)
Musk: 'So we’ll try a little advertising and see how it goes.' (Getty Images/Frederic J Brown)

Tesla chief and Twitter owner Elon Musk has made a three-point turn and decided that advertising is, possibly, "awesome, and everyone should do it", adding that his electric car business will "try a little advertising and see how it goes".

Speaking at a live-stream yesterday of Tesla's annual shareholder meeting, Musk claimed it was ironic that Twitter, the platform he acquired in October for about $43bn, was "highly dependent on advertising" revenues.

"So here I am, [having] never used advertising before and now I have a company that's highly dependent on advertising," he said onstage in response to an investor question.

"I believe in taking suggestions," he continued. "So we'll try a little advertising and see how it goes."

The boss of Tesla, which has been cutting prices due to global economic pressures and growing competition in the electric vehicle market, has famously decried advertising in the past, going so far as to tweet that he "hates" it.

But his apparent change in stance drew big cheers from the audience, many of whom stood up to applaud. "I wasn't expecting that level of enthusiasm," Musk said, adding wryly: "If I read between the lines, it sounds like our shareholders, subtle as it is, I'll say we'll probably do some advertising."

Musk noted that there were "amazing features and functionality about Teslas that people don't know about", adding that while there were "a lot of people that follow the Tesla account and my account on Twitter, to some degree it is preaching to the choir and the choir is already convinced".

It appears likely that much of that adspend will be deployed across Twitter, which has suffered from advertisers leaving the platform – such as Apple – due to brand safety concerns. Musk has made divisive comments regarding so-called "free speech" and allowing previously banned right-wingers back on the platform, including ex-president Donald Trump.

Musk tweeted last week that he had found a new CEO for Twitter, who was revealed to be NBCUniversal sales leader Linda Yaccarino (an appointment that has impressed some in the industry).

Musk discussed Twitter during the investment event, commenting on his new chief executive: "There was a short-term distraction because I had to do some major open heart surgery on Twitter to ensure the company's survival. But I think Twitter is in a stable place and I'm obviously very excited to have Linda Yaccarino join.

"I think Linda's going to do a great job running Twitter and I'll provide guidance on technology development," Musk said.

"Obviously this is not a Twitter meeting but the larger point is that I feel that I don't need to devote incremental time... the amount of time that Twitter will take going forward is relatively small compared to the last six months."


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