A top marketing executive at consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive is reportedly suspicious of Elon Musk’s upcoming appearance at an advertising conference due to the Twitter boss’s “damaging and often racist rhetoric.”
Musk, the Tesla mogul who acquired Twitter for $44 billion last fall with a goal of enabling near-unrestricted speech on the social media platform, is expected to announce his death on March 18.
Diana Haussling, Colgate-Palmolive’s vice president and general manager of consumer experience and growth, wrote an email to fellow MMA Global board members.
In the email, the contents of which were first reported by Semafor, the Black Housesling wrote that they were “both delighted at the success of the conference and mindful of the damaging and often racist rhetoric of Elon Musk.”
“While I am a big supporter of free speech and entrepreneurship, we cannot ignore the impact of such hate speech,” Haussling wrote. “Especially as a black woman, I can’t ignore that.”
The Post reached out to Haussling for comment.
Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing and customer experience officer, also chimed in on the same email thread, according to Semafor.
“For many communities, his willingness to use achievements and personal financial resources to advance an agenda under the guise of free speech leads to enduring racism [in] direct threats to their communities and a potential threat to brand safety that we should all be concerned about,” Hassan wrote in the email.
“Furthermore, all of us who lead our brand’s cross-platform investments had to navigate a post-acquisition situation that can objectively only be characterized as chaotic to the point of moments of irresponsibility.”
The Post has reached out to Hassan for comment.
Despite Hassan’s concerns about Musk, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Post that Hassan is one of several top advertising executives who will meet with the controversial “Chief Twit” on the sidelines of the conference to discuss business.
Another marketing executive, Kristi Argyilan, senior vice president of retail media at grocery chain Albertsons, wrote on the email chain that she was “concerned about the reputational risk to MMA,” while she was “even more concerned about the damage or the hurt this could be for anyone who is part of our community.”
“By giving Elon Musk a stage, we are committed to having an important discussion that must be conducted with the utmost care and respect for those most harmed by his actions and inactions,” she wrote.
The Post has reached out to Argyilan for comment.
In the email thread, none of the executives cited a specific comment, remark, or tweet from Musk that could be construed as racist.
During the conference, which is expected to be attended by around 700 advertising executives, Musk will take questions from NBCUniversal advertising director Linda Yaccarino.
The meeting is billed as an “intimate talk” in which the two will discuss “Twitter 2.0 and the future for marketers on the platform and the role Twitter is playing in cultural conversations.”
The post solicited comments from Twitter, NBCUniversal and MMA Global.
A source with knowledge of the situation told The Post that the email thread Semafor cited reflected initial reactions to Musk’s appearance, which was first announced on March 25.
Since then, “the conversation has progressed,” according to the source, adding that there were no specific calls to remove Musk from the conference.
The source told the Post that there has also never been a threat from executives to boycott the event in protest of Musk’s performance.
Musk’s direct management style and overhaul of Twitter’s content moderation policies have prompted advertisers to flee his platform.
According to estimates by research firm Pathmatics, cited by Reuters, 14 of Twitter’s top 30 advertisers stopped all advertising on the platform after Musk took charge on Oct. 27.
Four advertisers reduced their spend by 92% to 98.7% from the week before Musk’s acquisition through the end of the year.
Overall, the top 30 companies’ ad spend fell 42% to an estimated $53.8 million for November and December combined, according to Pathmatics, despite an increase in spend from six of them.
Technology-focused publication The Information, citing details shared by a top Twitter advertising executive at a staff meeting earlier this year, reported that Twitter’s fourth-quarter revenue fell about 35% year over year due to a slump in advertising.