Walmart’s suspension of advertising on X became last month’s biggest brand story

January 19, 2024

Written by Haley Corzo

“I prefer HEB.” That was Elon Musk’s somewhat predictable response to the announcement that Walmart was the latest brand to suspend advertising on X, following other major companies who left the platform back in November when the issue first began.

In our last brand coverage blog we wrote about Disney and Apple being the two most mentioned brands involved in suspending advertising on the platform, but the conversation was still steadily gaining attention as it spilled into the new year.

As usual, every month we look at how the Fortune 100 companies are covered online, highlighting the ones that received the most public interest, and even though it was early in the month, Walmart’s advertising decision grabbed most of the attention in December. In future we’re going to move to look at this quarterly in a more extended report, so watch out for that in a couple of months.

timeline showing media and public interest in Walmart ads

Advertisers have been wary of how Musk will alter content moderation on X since he took over in 2022, but his perceived endorsement of an anti-semetic conspiracy theory is what first urged brands to cease advertising in November. Regardless of whether or not Musk believed his comments were responsible for these decisions, companies kept leaving, and soon a flood of articles were published reporting that Walmart was next in line, with Reuters having the top story about the retailer overall.

In total, articles about Walmart earned nearly 178k engagements, and Elon Musk’s post about grocery store preferences saw just about 2k. 

Here are some other brands that captured attention in the news and on social media. 

Nike’s Powerpuff Girls collab excites on TikTok

Nike SB (skateboarding) announced it was releasing a trio of Powerpuff Girls inspired Dunk Lows on TikTok, and the promotional video earned a massive 8.24 million engagements on the platform. 

@nike Sugar, spice, and everything nice. Introducing the SB Dunk Low by #powerpuffgirls ♬ original sound - Nike

This proves to be another successful tap into nostalgia for the brand, with fans reminiscing in the comments about the popular childhood show, and several others declaring that this was one of Nike’s best ads, with some comments even seeing tens of thousands of likes themselves.

Delta drew media attention for a viral TikTok involving an employee

A story that first went viral on TikTok but then picked up a fair amount of media coverage was one about a transgender actress accusing a Delta employee of intentionally misgendering her in an airport altercation. 

The video, first posted on the actress’ account, was not well received by the conservative public, and resulted in support for the Delta employee in discussions across social media. In terms of media coverage, the story has mostly been circulated by conservative publishers such as the Daily Wire and Rumble, with a few local news outlets also picking it up

This coverage analysis showed us that Elon Musk’s chaotic energy towards brands is going nowhere, but often his bark is worse than his bite. In this case, Walmart’s decision to leave X (along with the other companies before it) was more powerful than Musk’s retort on social media. 

TikTok also continues to be a powerful player, as legacy brands like Nike are seeing huge success with their approach to short-form video content, while Delta made headlines among conservative media after a video went viral on the platform. This further proves that TikTok is past the consideration stage for brands, as they need to monitor reactions to their own content but also be aware when issues arise that indirectly, or directly, involve them.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can monitor your brand, check out our networks here.

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Haley Corzo

Haley is a Content Strategist for NewsWhip working at the intersection of journalism and marketing. With experience working in advertising for consumer brands, she brings a fresh perspective on how NewsWhip’s technology can be used to make an impact. She is passionate about topics such as mental health, women’s issues, and travel.

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Regular updates from the NewsWhip team on the crises, trends, and stories that are resonating with the media and public around the web.