Elon Musk’s Twitter Tenure Deserves A Chance, NBCUniversal Sales Chief Linda Yaccarino Says: “You’ve Got To Give The Guy A Minute”

Linda Yaccarino, head of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, says despite the intense backlash over his two-plus weeks operating Twitter, Elon Musk deserves patience from the company’s advertisers and business partners.

“You’ve got to give the guy a minute,” Yaccarino said, adding that she wouldn’t “bet against him.”

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Speaking at an Ad Age conference, as reported by the advertising trade publication, Yaccarino said she has been “obsessed” with Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, which she described as “fascinating.” Yaccarino said she had been among major advertisers touching base with the company’s leadership during the recent chaos as it looks to shore up relations with advertisers and users. For NBCUniversal, “Twitter is the single, No. 1 biggest” partner for content distribution, she noted. Through the company’s Amplify offering, it takes a cut of proceeds for helping NBCU promote news, sports and entertainment franchises like Saturday Night Live as well as company mainstays like the Olympic Games.

Many ad buyers have paused their buys on Twitter in recent days as a result of the choppy rollout of a new verification scheme, which jeopardized the lion’s share of the company’s $5 billion-plus in annual revenue. The effort to explore new subscription models has coincided with Musk laying off half the company’s staff and engaging in dubious conduct on his personal Twitter account. Over the weekend after the acquisition closed, for example, he shared a baseless conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. An $8-a-month subscription plan conferring blue check marks on any user paying to sign up has invited impersonation and fraud, though Musk has vowed to swiftly suspend any accounts engaging in “deception or trickery.”

Promises of vigorous enforcement didn’t stop brands like Pepsi, Eli Lilly and even Musk’s Tesla Inc. from immediately being spoofed and trolled by bogus accounts posing as official and bearing a blue check. (The company suspended the overhaul today, according to multiple media reports, as it gauges the potential downside.) Broader concerns about the kinds of controversial or even hateful content that could start to circulate more freely on Twitter — especially given Musk’s repeated invocations of “free speech” and the “digital town square” — have amped up the anxiety. Economic conditions also favor at least a temporary time-out, with third-quarter results from YouTube, Meta Platforms, Roku and other tech players demonstrating that ad buyers were cautious even before Musk’s Twitter adventure.

Yaccarino said her sense is that Musk “understands safety and transparency” but just needs time to “learn advertising.” The NBCU vet added, “Give me a break, I think we can teach him.”

Given the nearly decade-long relationship the companies have developed, Yaccarino said there is little choice but to root for Musk to right the ship. “There is no surrogate for Twitter,” she said.

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