General Motors, the makers of Cadillac and 20 other car brands, is suspending its advertising on Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media platform. The public relations rivalry between global brands is about to enter a new dimension.
The Detroit automaker, a rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla, confirmed it is “pausing” advertising as it evaluates Twitter’s new direction. It will continue to use the platform to interact with customers but not pay for advertising, GM added.
“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership. As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising. Our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Under CEO Mary Barra, the Detroit company was among the first automakers to announce billions of dollars in spending to compete better against Tesla regarding electric vehicles.
The future direction of Twitter has been central to the takeover story. Musk has said he is a “free speech absolutist,” who would restore the account of former President Donald Trump, who was banned over his tweets during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Musk also said that he plans a “content moderation council and will not reinstate any accounts or make major content decisions before it is convened.
Henrik Fisker, CEO of EV startup Fisker Inc., deleted his Twitter account earlier this year when Twitter’s board accepted Musk’s bid to buy the company and take it private. Fisker Inc. continues to use Twitter, which every major automotive brand utilizes for customer engagement and marketing.
The question now is will other auto brands and rivals of Tesla electric vehicles electric vehicles follow GM’s example? The likes of Toyota, Ford Motors, Mercedes, Honda, Volkswagen and other mega brands are weighing their public relations and advertising options after Musk’s takeover of Twitter.
Public relations and word of mouth pays better than advertising
Musk has long boasted that Tesla does not pay for traditional advertising, a cost that has added up for conventional automakers’ brands through the years.
Instead, Elon Musk uses a clever public relations strategy driven by Tesla brand champions. Tesla rewards people who run, or are members of, Tesla owners’ clubs as well as other social media influencers who promote the company’s products, stock and Musk on social networks, especially Twitter and YouTube as well as on fan blogs.
They are often granted early access to Tesla products, like the company’s Full Self Driving Beta software, and given passes to company events where attendance is limited.
In the company’s annual report for 2021, Tesla wrote: “Historically, we have been able to generate significant media coverage of our company and our products, and we believe we will continue to do so.
Such media coverage and word of mouth are the current primary drivers of our sales leads and have helped us achieve sales without traditional advertising and at relatively low marketing costs.”
Will Elon Musk apply the power of public relations and his personal brand to create a new Twitter? The world is waiting.