Woke United Airlines Suspends Twitter Ads

United Airlines has suspended its Twitter ad spend. That’s not surprising, it’s the most woke of the major carriers in an industry that’s simultaneously one of the most carbon-intensive and most virtue-signaling.

Most of the companies pulling their ad spend are spinning it as caution in the face of uncertainty over what the platform will look like under Elon Musk’s ownership (little has actually changed so far other than a vibe shift), and major corporations are certainly risk-averse, but at the same time how much of it is really just a pullback in ad spend more generally in the face of broader risk to the economy? For United, though, that explanation seems less likely as at least outward statements by travel executives have remained so bullish (in my view overly so).

I certainly feel badly for the half of Twitter employees who were laid off. Several thoughts,

  • Twitter has been a money-losing enterprise. Twitter needs to generate a billion dollars a year just to cover interest on debt used to finance Musk’s acquisition. Cost cuts are as much part of the equation as revenue generation to make this possible.

  • Twitter’s workforce seems to have been mind-boggingly bloated, with programmers who did little programming and staff doing this other than creating value for the business.

  • For all of the talk about how sudden it was, and all the talk about lawsuits, Twitter employees let go are being given more severance than required and not being required to work. It’s hardly the generous tone struck by Stripe but Stripe is profitable.

  • However doing these layoffs so quickly may have been a huge mistake, this many this quickly almost certainly means making many mistakes and losing some of the best talent in the process. Maybe ‘shock and awe’ is part of the turnaround strategy but would waiting a few weeks to figure out whom to fire and not just that to fire have been worse?

Twitter’s cost cuts won’t help if revenue dries up, but ad spend is likely drying up in social media anyway. Facebook’s problems seem just as great as Twitter’s, though Facebook starts from a base of far more revenue. Remember that Twitter was troubled and underperforming when Musk took over!

And while the consensus seems to be that Musk’s approach has been haphazard, and ‘destroying’ the platform he just spend $44 billion to buy, everybody has been talking about Twitter. It’s managed to capture a large piece of the national conversation even in the days leading up to midterm elections, during war in Ukraine, and as the economy teeters amidst inflation and higher interest rates. Musk makes Twitter focal, so I’m not sure he’s doing quite as badly as most people imagine.

Ironically given Musk’s public statements in advance of buying Twitter, one of the least-touched groups of employees (led by one of the most anti-Trump executives at the company) is.. content moderation. Could they be necessary for a pivot to porn?

I have no idea what the future holds for Twitter. It was a bloated laggard under CEO Parag Agrawal and before. Musk is blowing things up, and that will either go very well or very badly. But it will be more interesting and more focal for awhile in either case. It seems like a mistake to walk away rather than to be a part of it, at least a little bit even if you’re hedging your bets elsewhere int he meantime.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The only people I see attempting to suppress free speech are the woke Left.

    Fact.

    Labeling something as woke is not an act by those who disagree with it. It is an act by those who are tired of the Left trying to ram it down their throats.

    People disagree with you. Grow up and deal with it.

  2. Your continuing politization of your blogs is becoming like the campaign ads. I really don’t care how you feel on political issues, and you can keep them to yourself, or continue polarization of your readers. Most bloggers in the travel space stay away from political views and I sure wish you would as well.

  3. It amazes me that the people clutching their pearls over “woke” people advocating for a more inclusive and tolerant society by claiming they are behaving badly are the very same people trying to legislate their morality on others.

    United is a business and are under NO obligation to advertise with any organization that does not align with their values. If UA were advertising on CNN or MSNBC and said they were going to stop you’d be cheering in the streets. The hypocrisy is embarrassing for you and I have nothing but pity and sadness for you that you have to live your lives walking around thinking that the only way to win is to demonize everyone else.

    This notion of “wokeness” being evil is an obsolete mentality perpetrated by a group of individuals who see progress as a zero sum game instead of realizing that a rising tide lifts all boats. And for those of you saying that 11/8 will be the day of reckoning, just remember: you may win the battle, but history has shown us that you will lose the war.

    Y’all lost on slavery. Y’all lost on a woman’s right to own property and vote. Y’all lost on interracial marriage. Y’all lost on gay rights. Y’all lost on segregation. You’re going to keep losing over time because humans are generally good people who want to do right by each other and doing right by each other means respecting what makes us similar and what sets us apart.

    And…for the record…I have the same opinion of extreme points of view on the “woke” side as well. You are entitled to your opinions, but you cross the line when you try to force them on me.

  4. @SOBE ER DOC

    People like you are on the wrong side of history.
    You attacks on women to support “trans” issues are why you continue to lose.
    We won on abortion
    We will on affirmative action
    and we will win on “Gay marriage”
    the supreme court will and is fixing these issues.

  5. The twatter employees that lost thier jobs deserve it. It makes me happy they are out on the street.
    Maybe they should learn to mine coal?

  6. @Gene
    Don’t worry the democrats/lefties will get whats coming to them.

    Democrats can only steal elections to win but that is starting to become impossible for them.

  7. Companies need to quit the useless woke virtue signaling. Instead, they should invest in improving their product and focus on delivering delightful customer service. My clients and I have been eminently successful in exploiting this misalignment. We relentlessly seek to “own the customer”. You accomplish that by having a product or service they yearn to use and make sure they delight in the relationship. It works every time!

  8. Haha the lefties really can’t handle the fact that they lost their echo chamber and propaganda machine can they.

    I can’t wait till tuesday.
    So much for “roevember” haha.

  9. The Twitter employees all said they were gonna quit if Musk bought the company. Musk did them a favor plus severance. They should thank Musk.

  10. This post reminded me why I stopped clicking on your posts. Anyone using “woke” in 2022 should be ignored 100%. And why does it even matter to you if United suspends Twitter advertising?

  11. So do all United pilots and flight attendants and mechanics and ramp crew approve of their employers viewpoints? I guarantee a “sickout” of even 10% of their employees would catch the attention of management. Although, the dems will just print more money and bail them out if United keeps saying the “right” things.

  12. Next week UA management will learn that the ideology pushed by tech dorks, msm and some politicians does not align with most of the country.

  13. If united is the most woke in your opinion please tell us who the most fascist of the airline companies are.
    Are you so insecure of your content that you need to use click bait and labeling to get attention to your blog?

  14. Gary-
    Labeling something as “woke” when you don’t agree with it is just lazy.
    And “woke” is just made-up, right-wing boogeyman nonsense.
    My 85 year old aunt just said woke the other day. I thought I was going to puke.
    She is currently living with us while she recuperates from surgery.
    None of her Trumpy children or grandchildren stepped up to help her.
    I’m sure they will be first in line for her riches when she is gone.
    These are the same lazy people who also use the term “woke.”
    You run with good company.

  15. Rjb-
    Big difference between “free speech” and hate speech.
    Big difference between objective truths and Elon Musk retweeting a post from a wacko site insinuating that Paul Pelosi was attacked by his male hooker.
    That anyone has to explain this to you is absurd.
    Responsible advertisers don’t want to be part of a circus.

    Chad-
    “60% of pedophiles belong to the lgbt.”
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Fool.

  16. Gary, I was reading the Will Leitch (frequentl New York Magazine writer, author and cool sports commentator) Newsletter on Substack today (it drops every Saturday) and he linked to another Substack blog called Dave Karpf, The Future Then And Now and its article:
    “Elon’s Twitter Tilt.” It explains exactly what Musk is doing and why.
    It’s a fascinating read, you and your readers should check it out.
    Highly recommended!

  17. Jerry:
    It was the Republican-controlled Senate that voted 96-0 to approve $58B for the airlines on March 25th 2020. The Republicans created the bill AND the terms of it, allowing the stupid ways that airlines spent the money. It was signed into law by a Republican president.
    Fool.

  18. BREAKING: Florida Republicans now lead Democrats by more than 300,000 voters in the 2022 election
    ✅ REPs lead by 301,176 (+7.21%)
    1,833,354 Republicans
    1,532,178 Democrats
    ⚪️ 755,497 NPA

    First time in history the gop has out voted democrats in early voting.
    Here’s Miami-dade a blue county

    148,875 Republicans (+.87%)
    145,518 Democrats
    ⚪️ 85,070 NPA

    Same is happeneing in Nevada. The dems only have a 770 early vote lead. They usually have a 40k early vote lead.

    The GOP is going do destroy the Democrats it will be time for payback and this woke nonsense will stop.

    Know this you are the enemy.

  19. Thanks for exposing yourself Gary. Easy decision now to avoid your content going forward.

  20. @MM

    Na it’s the truth

    same sex abuses are 60% of incidents with pedophiles.

    Pedophilia and the lgbt go hand in hand I expect them to add the P soon to LGBT.

  21. @Chad – you are truly pathetic. It’s very clear you are anti-American. You spew forth the hate that so characterizes the Republican party of late. It was never like this before until that mentally ill demagogue Trump appeared. And it has been documented that many people who are homophobic (like you) are suppressing their own gayness.

  22. Anybody who uses the term “woke” isn’t someone worth listening to, Its basically the new “sheeple.” Your also attracting losers like Chad, don’t be that dude.

  23. Click. Bait.

    But the fact that this post has far and away the most of any Gary has recently published shows the reasoning behind it all.

    Still, this country is fu*ked.

  24. @JimC

    You’re right I do hate it. I despise america, I openly wish china and/or russia defeat the us.
    The us is a cancer of a nation, the people are garbage, the society elevated the stupid, weak and deranged.

    You’re not putting this genie back in the bottle, america will end one way or another and I can’t wait.

  25. Yikes.

    Yikes for Americans who tell other Americans that ‘they are the enemy.’

    Yikes for commenters on an airline blog saying pedophilia and LGBTQ+ go hand in hand.

    Yikes for this post, which seems to be more Musk apologist than it is airline-related.

    Good luck Gary, good luck America. Peace out.

  26. News Flash “Robert”. UA is “woke” no other way to put it. Sorry you libs don’t like the label, but then again Libs are famous for making up and assigning labels

  27. Lol really? “Woke” sorry I wouldn’t want my business advertised next to whatever crazy stuff gets posted on an unmoderated platform. I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it.

    Look what happened to Truth Social and Parler during the early days, it became the ISIS news network. I wonder what ad rates go for on those platforms these days… Though I know Truth Social is over a million dollars behind in paying for it’s hosting.

  28. BkAloha says:
    November 5, 2022 at 12:06 pm
    This post reminded me why I stopped clicking on your posts. Anyone using “woke” in 2022 should be ignored 100%

    What a hypocrite. You not only clicked but are now posting. Take your whine elsewhere.

  29. Lol really? “Woke” sorry I wouldn’t want my business advertised next to whatever crazy stuff gets posted on an unmoderated platform. I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it.

    Look what happened to Truth Social and Parler during the early days, it became the ISIS news network. I wonder what ad rates go for on those platforms these days… Though I know Truth Social is over a million dollars behind in paying for it’s hosting.

    Also good I hope there is a boycott of all these companies giving the crazy people screaming political statements on planes the last few years we’ll all have a much more pleasant experience as people exercise thier free speech voting with dollars just as UA is currently doing here.

  30. @chad — I certainly hope you can’t vote in US elections. You sound like a gay Russian bot, so I doubt it.

  31. Gary, I hope your advertisers are made aware of the hateful unmoderated comments on your blog. I’m sure the companies you hawk cards for would not want to be associated with this. Be a real thought leader and denounce this language.

  32. Gary .. wasn’t this a travel blog?
    let Untied drive their airline and business into the ground if they want to – their choice.

    Do you get you little twitter blue bird yet? — you Elon wants you to have it.

  33. @SOBE ER DOC

    Y’all lost on slavery? Y’all lost on segregation? Both of those issues were DEMOCRAT favored issues. A simple check of a history book would tell you that this country went to war to end slavery. A war won by the North, under a newly formed political party called the REPUBLICAN PARTY, led by some dude named Abraham Lincoln. And to this day, just like in the 1950s, it was DEMOCRATS who were in favor of segregation. Woke leftist universities are trying to separate, by race, where students live on campus. If you really are a doctor, you are woefully uneducated.

  34. United is going even further on its “woke” pathway.
    They now have strict racial profiling hiring requirements.
    Meaning they will now prefer to hire a less qualified pilot or mechanic with the “right” racial/ethnic/gender/minority profile instead of hiring a more qualified one with the “wrong” profile.

    It is very reassuring to see an airline that is no longer considering safety as its highest priority!!

    By the way, this united policy is clearly discriminatory against the ones that now have the “wrong” profile.

    For full disclosure, I stopped flying United after my own spouse that is Asian was discriminated against by the FA and the captain of a flight over 10 years ago!!
    It was also a clear sign that safety was already no longer United’s priority at the time as the captain preferred to join the FA in her threatening rant instead of staying in his seat flying the plane.

  35. I was one of the first to comment here about United’s decision concerning Twitter. For those who missed it, I said that this decision is reason enough for me not to fly United. I only fly Southwest, the best managed airline out there. I stand by my decision.

  36. At this point democrats and leftists are enemies and should be treated as such. Don’t help them, dont talk to them. Is you see them in need of help let them suffer.

    They are the enemy
    They are the fifth column

  37. Low-quality clickbait, Gary. Despite the inflammatory headline, >95% of the post was about staffing decisions at Twitter, not about aviation or travel. Could you have at least made the effort to explain why you think it’s a “mistake” for United to suspend advertising on Twitter? Is there any evidence at all that advertising on Twitter drives revenue for United?
    Until Musk makes clear his intentions for the platform I would think it foolish for any company to lock themselves into a long-term contract without knowing how Twitter might re-brand itself.

  38. This is ridiculous article, and even more insane responses.

    “Free speech” has never had a place in capitalism and corporations.

    It is a protection against punishment by government for speaking out against government.

    You don’t walk into a CVS or a bakery and start yelling wild accusation or suggesting the cashier is an alien. There is no free speech protection there. Walk up to your CEO and call him/her a moron to their face at a company meeting. You are GONE!

    But call the President a liar during a State of the Union address, and you are not arrested and imprisoned. THAT is free speech.

    Advertisers are leaving Twitter becase the intent of spending advertising money is to generate a return on that advertising dollar. It’s business, not charity.

    If Ad Agencies recommend that their clients shift advertising dollars because of changing demographics, that is not “free speech” or “woke”, it’s business, its money.

    You react to market changes or you become irrelevant.

    An airline needs to sell seats. That is all that matters to them.

    Black, white, asian, male female, gay trisexusl martian… doesn’t matter. Get the money and get the butt in seat

    But there is one truth that is clear to corporations that want to make money: everything the far right touches dies.

    That’s not a winning strategy to sell product

  39. United is hiring pilots based on race and gender.. they are actively hiring non white and non male pilots with several checkride failures, no college degree, etc and passing up higher qualified and SAFER FLYING applicants based on the gender and race. I know several excellent pilots who got turned down the job there because of this very recently.

  40. It’s funny that United and the others can donate money to a communist terrorist organization that wanted to destroy families, burn down cities, murder police. Where the founders bought multiple mansions and fleeced everyone else. Where they went to Venezuela and praised all the death and starvation they are suffering under communism.

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