This is a question that many readers ask themselves. This is also a question that can panic other manufacturers. Indeed, General Motors spent $2.7 million in the United States in 2021 for its communication campaigns, and yet there are significantly more GM vehicles on the road in the United States. The issue of advertising is therefore even more legitimate for Tesla, which is still considered a newcomer to the market. Decryption.
From our point of view, the manufacturer fully benefits from its position in a car market which was in a situation of total control of its development. For years, manufacturers moved together in the market to offer innovation at a pace that allowed them to always maintain control of the market.
A completely disruptive product
Now that you know this, it must be emphasized that the magic of Elon Musk or the builder is a myth. Originally, there is a product that completely breaks the market. And generally in life, it’s often the most daring moves that are most successful. We are not going to return here to the elements of the first generation Tesla Roadster or the first generation Tesla Model S which radically changed our vision of the automobile. We will only quote the 17-inch screen in the Tesla Model S.
The consumer clearly asked the question? Why in my Audi A1 I don’t have a 17 inch screen. But the most striking thing for me is still the presence of CD players in almost all vehicles sold in 2013. You can check, the iPod worked very well at the time.
So Tesla’s first ad was the Tesla Model S.. This is important because too many journalists highlight elements of the present to explain the initial success. It was simply impossible to predict the success of Tesla or the emergence of communities of influencers as there can be around the brand today.
Why didn’t Tesla need a launch ad?
Here too, we are going to make you a revelation. In 2013, Tesla’s production capacity was extremely low. Perhaps 1500 cars a year and in the world. The product was sold for around €80,000 and you had to wait 6 months to a year to receive it, not for semiconductor issues but for production issues.
The product therefore did the job in the streets. And Tesla absolutely didn’t need to frustrate consumers. At the time, the slightest publicity could have created a lot of reputational but also financial problems.
Any marketing expert will tell you that. If you need publicity to launch your company. You can go home and the early investors obviously bought mostly the Tesla Model S.
Recommendation at the heart of the Tesla model
I specified the price of the Tesla Model S, because it is important from my point of view. Indeed, this electric vehicle was accessible especially to liberal professions and entrepreneurs around the world. People who have a lot of relationships and have mostly found success thanks to these relationships.
So the first buyers have always explained to those around them and to the curious, the advantages of driving in electric. The impact has been considerable. The referrer program that Tesla then launched and then stopped rather recently amplified this phenomenon but absolutely did not trigger the phenomenon.
You can of course see the recommendation as advertising but it remains free for the manufacturer.
Tesla: the manufacturer that does not need advertising
There are three main reasons to advertise:
- Brand recognition. Get people to know your brand.
- Product recognition, when new or improved products are released, to entice the public to prepare to buy them.
- The buzz to master your communication.
Tesla owns it without paid advertising. Between a charismatic, high-profile CEO and viral publicity through fans, the Tesla brand is well known for EVs and slowly as a major company involved in solar power and energy storage. Elon Musk being strongly associated with Tesla, even non-Tesla articles often refer to him.
With the exception of a new product launch, which happens every two or three years, Tesla does not do a model year refresh. Improvements and new features are simply added, usually through OTA updates, and the product just gets better. Owners simply accept that their vehicle improves over time, with little or no downside to them. So if a company doesn’t really have a “new” product to sell, how do you advertise that it’s new or better?
Especially since changes and updates can happen every week – any feature you might advertise might be different at the time you shot an ad, edited it and released it to the public. New product launches are discussed at annual meetings and are not the subject of specific advertising campaigns.
The buzz to master your communication.
Other companies have to continually release positive information about their products to cover up the negatives. Since Tesla doesn’t do this, it seems like Tesla has a lot of negatives against it – paint flaws, holes in the panels, key fobs that don’t work, expensive repairs, etc.
For example, GM recalled all Chevy Bolts due to battery issues. And yet, thanks to their marketing department, the headlines you see are record Chevy Bolt sales.