Elon and Showmanship
Elon Musk stated before that the public tends to be interested in superlatives and precedent things.
This quote captures the very core of Elon Musk’s marketing vision. The man understands the usefulness of showmanship, of doing tons of interviews, media appearances, and even movie cameos. Ironically enough, Musk, who’s sometimes dubbed as the “real-life Iron Man,” did cameo in the 2010 movie Iron Man 2, where he tells Tony Stark about his idea for an electric jet.
You can test Elon Musk’s showmanship for yourself by a simple Google search. Type in “Elon Musk says” (keep the quotes), and you’ll get a long list of things he’s said in the past that attracted a lot of attention, including but not limited to:
Elon Musk says he’ll send people to Mars by 2030.
- Elon Musk says that we are probably living in a simulation.
- Elon Musk says that the quickest way to make Mars livable is by nuking it.
- Elon Musk says Tesla cars will drive themselves in a few years.
- Elon Musk says Artificial Intelligence could soon take down the Internet.
Although two completely different individuals, Elon Musk is very similar to someone like Donald Trump, perhaps in the way that they both understand the power of making statements that are often deemed crazy by society.
Tesla as the Good Guys
Tesla, through a blog post titled “All Our Patents Are Belong to You,” depicted themselves as the good guy brand. This blog post, kudos for the video game meme from the ’80s, explains that Tesla is giving away its patents free of charge.
Additionally, back in 2016, Tesla bumped up a dying man’s production queue so he can have his Model S sooner than later, which made for a great story that attracted the attention of both the media and fans alike.
Humorous and Seemingly “Down-to-Earth” CEO
It all started with Musk doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread back in 2015. Some of his answers were perceived as funny by most of the community. Since then, he continued to have this humorous, Tony Stark-like persona, especially on his Twitter, where he shares the latest memes.
Back in 2015, Tesla released a video of a prototype of their then-new charger, trying to find its way to the Model S in a very creepy sci-fi-like way.
The video has amassed over 8 million views as of the time of writing of this article and was parodied by numerous Reddit members at the time of release. For example, someone re-released the clip but with Marvin Gaye’s music added on top of it, which turned it into an instant parody.
Tesla Drivers Posting Their First Impressions
Numerous new Tesla owners have recorded themselves trying out the Autopilot function for the first time and posted their “reactions” on YouTube. These videos have thousands upon thousands of views combined and are yet another cog in this seemingly smooth machine that is Tesla’s free-of-charge marketing.
“So Safe, it broke the safety testing equipment.”
A 2015 Reddit post with 10 thousand upvotes titled “TIL the Tesla Model S is so safe, it broke the safety testing equipment” is yet another great example of online fan communities contributing to the marketing of Tesla. The title sounds like something out of the Made To Stick marketing playbook.
Gigafactory – The Most Gigantic, Cleanest Factory Ever
Gigafactory, an unprecedented project started by Tesla in 2014, aims to build the largest factory in the world, just outside of Sparks, Nevada. The facility will be primarily powered by solar power and is expected to be the biggest building in the world once completed.
This project is a textbook example of the “precedents and superlatives” marketing trick.
Impressing Comic Artists
Numerous influential comic artists such as WaitButWhy and Oatmeal Comics have long been mesmerized by Tesla and its products, acting as free hubs of marketing as a result.
The Power of Names
Ever since Tesla took off, Elon Musk continues to refer to regular cars as “gasoline cars.” This is what is known as a retronym, much like “pocket watch,” “analog camera,” and more.
It is strategically used to make the new the norm as well as emphasizing the primitiveness of the current.
Ads Made by Supporters and Fans
Back in 2014, RJ Collins and James Khabushani, two college grads, founded Everdream Pictures and went out of their way to make a 1,500-dollar ad for Tesla Motors. The conceptualization and direction of the ad were done by their partners Andreas Attai and Joe Sill.
Elon Musk took noticed of the ad and tweeted it on his personal page, adding that he might be interested in working with them.
Tesla also launched ‘Project Loveday’, a contest for fan-made ads for Tesla cars which was, surprise surprise, originally the idea of a 5th-grader.