Elon Musk’s SNL gig resulted in ‘seismic shift’ to CEO’s personal brand, says expert

(Credit: Saturday Night Live/Twitter)

Elon Musk’s hosting gig at Saturday Night Live was, in a lot of ways, better than expected. Kicking off the episode with a witty and surprisingly vulnerable monologue and following up with several legitimately funny sketches, Musk proved to be a hit among SNL’s viewers. To date, the May 8 episode gave the late-night show its third-highest ratings this season–but this is not all. 

According to Eric Schiffer, a Mensa member and leading expert in media and branding, Elon Musk was able to initiate a notable shift in his personal brand with his hosting gig. By appearing in the noted late-night show, Musk was, at least to some degree, able to personally connect with SNL‘s viewers. He accomplished this through his own brand of awkward humor and his tendency to throw out self-deprecating jokes.

This, according to the branding expert, is something that is rare among Musk’s peers. Very few CEOs, after all, would be open to putting themselves out there. Even fewer would likely be willing to poke fun at their shortcomings and mistakes. 

“I think his appearance was a seismic shift in the future of his brand because it allowed him to out-position himself from most entrepreneurs who are not able to connect emotionally and humble themselves in ways that he did. Very, very few super-successful entrepreneurs are willing to be so revealing and vulnerable which will always connect with people.  

“That’s just how we’re wired. We want to relate to their humanity. And people want to relate to successful people and humanity. When people that have reached hyper levels of achievement are willing to display humility and be self-deprecating and vulnerable, they’re going to be that much more beloved,” Schiffer said. 

But it’s not only Elon Musk that benefitted from Saturday Night Live‘s May 8 episode. The comedy show also experienced a boost thanks to the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, according to the branding expert. Musk may be polarizing, after all, but Schiffer noted that the CEO actually connects very well with Gen-Z and millennial audiences–viewers that are currently not being tapped well by Saturday Night Live

“The knives have been out for SNL and they’ve been suffering for some time a slow, merciless death in connecting with younger people in general and the show benefited from two things: tremendous access via streaming and an icon to Gen-Z and millennials and a show that was in some ways oriented to have Gen-Z-ers feel, seen, heard and understood. 

“This was an epic shot in the arm for Saturday Night Live and a roaring success for Musk that allowed him to win over people that may be turned off by his immense wealth and/or viewed him in ways that didn’t see that he also has a soul and humanity that they can connect with,” Schiffer explained. 

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Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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