(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk attempted to repair his often strained relationship with the advertising industry with an appearance at the Cannes Lions conference on Wednesday in France.

The world’s richest man was interviewed on stage by Mark Read, the chief executive officer of one of the largest advertising agencies, who began by addressing Musk’s outburst against the industry last year.

“Back in November, you had a message for us, you told us to ‘go f——’ ourselves,” WPP Plc CEO Read said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a week-long event in the south of France that gathers the industry’s most influential executives. “What did you mean by that?”

Musk told Read that he was referring to a subset of advertisers who were trying to limit free speech, and that the company had made progress on becoming a safer place for brands. The outburst reflected what’s been a challenging first few years for Musk in charge of the social network, which relies on ads for the bulk of its revenue. At the time, some major advertisers had abandoned the app over concerns about the type of content allowed on the platform, and Musk had said he was worried it would doom the company.

“Advertisers have a right to appear next to content that they think is compatible with their brands,” Musk said at the event in Cannes, adding that third party review gave the platform high marks on brand safety. 

Still, X will always chose the option of making less money over limiting free speech, he said. The billionaire has loosened some of the app’s content restrictions and welcomed back many banned accounts, which has made some marketers uneasy. Musk’s own behavior, too, has been an issue. He’s used the platform to spread conspiracy theories and amplify extremist views to his more than 187 million followers. 

“I do shoot myself in the foot from time to time,” Musk said. “If you’re constantly going through a filter, now you aren’t being real. It’s better to be real.” 

It was a return to Cannes for the company, which had skipped last year’s event. Musk’s fraught relationship with the industry began soon after his chaotic takeover of X led some advertising agencies, including WPP, to advise clients to pause or consider suspending their ads on the site. 

In November, X accused accused Media Matters for America in a lawsuit of “maliciously” trying to drive away advertisers from the social media platform by reporting that ads for Apple Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Oracle Corp. were running next to pro-Nazi content.

X no longer publicly reports revenue or profits, but was on pace for about $2.5 billion in total advertising revenue in 2023 before Musk’s on-stage comments, Bloomberg previously reported. That would have reflected a drop of roughly 45% since 2021, the last full year before Musk’s arrival. 

Musk and X’s CEO Linda Yaccarino have tried to boost the social platform’s advertising business through new video partnerships, which would theoretically give marketers more high-quality places to buy ads within X. But Musk has also tried to diversify the company’s business away from advertising, and most notably started selling a revamped subscription service shortly after he took over and announced plans to make X an “everything app” with payments services. 

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