Tesla has never run commercials, and it doesn’t have a Public Relations or Advertising Department. Evidence over the years suggests that it doesn’t need one as the company’s products, events, and uncommonly vocal CEO Elon Musk have shown that spending money on commercials is overrated. Instead, they’ve let the company do its own talking, and despite not spending a dollar on ads, it’s arguably the most talked-about car company on the planet.
Before I wrote about electric cars for a living and considered myself an “EV enthusiast,” I knew that other electric cars existed. There’s a BMW i3 that I see on a daily basis on my daily commute to the gym, there’s a Chevy Bolt owner in my neighborhood, and there were a handful of Teslas around. Now, Teslas dominate my area, despite the fact that the company has never spent any money on advertising its products. I know I’ve seen Chevy Bolt and BMW i3 commercials on several occasions, but nobody talks about them.
From Elon Musk’s Twitter feed to rapper Yung Gravy’s hit single “Whip a Tesla,” there are plenty of ways Tesla has received the spotlight of the public eye through the years. Here are a few of the ones that I feel are the best example of how powerful Tesla’s PR machine is, even though it uses that money to continue developing its products.
1. The Tesla Model X “Dance”
While this one is extremely old and worn-out, it was usually the first thing I showed people who didn’t know what a Tesla is. It’s a flashy, flamboyant, fun Easter Egg that has the Model X dancing to the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and it’s an extremely annoying feature, according to several long-time Tesla owners who I keep in touch with. Despite its overuse by Tesla’s newcomers, it’s still a feature that spread throughout the internet like wildfire. It was a combination of inventiveness and Elon Musk’s bold sense of humor, and it undoubtedly gets the attention of many people who have no clue what is so special about Tesla vehicles.
Yeah, it might be old and outdated to some, but there’s no doubt it got the word out to some new Tesla followers. Rarely used in the wild anymore, it was recently used in China to attract college grads to consider working for the company.
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2. Elon Musk’s Twitter Feed
From Tesla stock synopses to product release details, to updates to Tesla’s lineup, Elon Musk’s Twitter feed is a legendary PR tool for the automaker. It’s free to create a Twitter, and Elon Musk uses it for literally any reason he can. His over 55 million Twitter followers feast at nearly every Tweet he writes, and the main difference for me is the responses he receives.
Musk is a comical man, someone who holds a great sense of humor and a light-heartedness that only a few people in his stressful position would be able to display. While most professional athletes attract responses from fans and foes who are interested in the sport they play, Musk attracts attention from nearly everyone from every walk of life. While you can usually expect some to share their newest memes, looking for approval from the unequivocal Lord of Memes, most commonly there are questions from Tesla owners and fans who are interested in when the next big development will be released.
Musk gains around 1 million new followers every week, according to his profile on Social Blade, A million extra sets of eyes feast upon his Tweets every night, whether they deal with automotive or his other projects, or his recent dive into Cryptocurrency, they attract massive attention from everyone in every corner of the World.
3. The Cybertruck Broken Glass Episode
During the 2019 unveiling of the Tesla Cybertruck, a demonstration of the vehicle’s durability was underway. First, Tesla’s Cheif Designer Franz von Holzhausen slammed a sledgehammer into the driver’s side door of the all-electric pickup. With no dents, dings, or imperfections to be found, the next part of the demonstration would reveal the nearly impossible to break Cybertruck glass, and it would solidify Tesla’s nearly indestructible vehicle.
Except the glass broke.
And for weeks and weeks, and months even, video of the Cybertruck’s glass breaking plagued the internet. For most companies, it would have been an embarrassing episode of a PR nightmare that would need massive amounts of explaining. Instead, Tesla used it to expand the brand.
Yup. Sledgehammer impact on door cracked base of glass, which is why steel ball didn’t bounce off. Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Next time …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2019
Tesla created the Cybertruck glass shirt for its store, which simply had the dinged-up glass put on the front of a black t-shirt. Not shying away from the event, Tesla used the cards it was dealt, and it was really incredible how something that would derail a product unveiling for something that claimed to be so strong and robust was used to continue the public’s awareness of the Cybertruck.
There’s three of my favorite examples of Tesla’s PR brilliance. Of course, there are plenty more, including one that occurred last weekend with UFC Lightweight Beneil Dariush.
Be sure to let me know what your favorite examples of Tesla’s PR are!