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Tesla created the world's best car commercial without spending a dime on advertising

By newadmin / Published on Wednesday, 07 Feb 2018 18:25 PM / No Comments / 7 views


tesla roadster starman spaceSending a Tesla Roadster into space allowed Elon Musk to draw more attention to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch.YouTube / SpaceX

  • SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday with a 2008 Tesla Roadster as its payload.
  • The event featured a livestream of the Roadster flying through space — a brilliant car commercial that didn’t require Tesla to spend a dime.
  • Elon Musk’s inclusion of the Roadster in the Falcon Heavy brought more media coverage to the launch from all kinds of publications. 

Tesla created the world’s best car commercial yesterday, but it doesn’t spend any money on advertising. This time, SpaceX footed the bill.

SpaceX is Elon Musk’s space exploration company, but he also runs Tesla. On Tuesday, SpaceX launched its largest rocket to date, Falcon Heavy, into space with a 2008 Tesla Roadster as its payload. The launch was designed to show how the company could transport cargo for clients and, eventually, carry people and supplies to colonize Mars.

Launching a Roadster into space was a brilliant marketing move

But Musk’s inclusion of a Roadster in the rocket was not a coincidence. While Musk claimed that he was using the Roadster because it would be less “boring” than traditional test payloads, there was more to the decision than that.

In the months before the Falcon Heavy’s launch, Musk and SpaceX posted a number of carefully-arranged photos of the Roadster which implied that the car, and Tesla by extension, were symbols of human ambition and technological progress. The photos also brought more media coverage to the Falcon Heavy launch, including from automotive publications that might not have covered it otherwise.

tesla roadster falcon heavyInstagram / elonmusk

But the real payoff came once the rocket reached space and viewers of SpaceX’s livestream were treated to stunning views of Earth as the Roadster traveled toward Mars.

“It looks so ridiculous and impossible,” Musk told reporters in a press conference after the launch. “You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake, honestly.”

The livestream delivered on the hype and sent its message loud and clear: Elon Musk is thinking bigger than any other American businessman.

While Tesla has become notorious for dealing with significant production delays each time it launches a new vehicle, the livestream reminded viewers of the company’s role in shifting the auto industry’s narrative toward a future of electric, self-driving cars. While Tesla has fallen behind competitors like General Motors in its efforts to mass-produce electric cars and Waymo’s self-driving technology, it is hard to imagine any other car company pulling off a similar spectacle, especially after a Super Bowl which featured a misguided Ram ad that used part of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

tesla roadster falcon heavyInstagram / elonmusk

Elon Musk has always had great marketing instincts

Of course, this isn’t Musk’s first great marketing stunt. In November, he turned a launch event for a semi-truck into a spectacle that captivated Tesla fans and industry observers. It helped that the truck, the Semi, was electric and had impressive features. And it didn’t hurt that Musk used the event to reveal the new Roadster, which was driven out of the back of a Semi as a surprise to attendees. But his instincts for showmanship are unparalleled among auto executives.

Musk has also shown a gift for building excitement through social media. He is one of the few CEOs with a Twitter account that doesn’t feel like it’s written by a PR team, and his candor is both endearing and effective. He uses the account to respond to questions and concerns from Tesla customers, reveal upcoming features, and crack jokes — all of which generates a significant amount of press coverage for the company.

But Musk’s gift for building hype might not be what Tesla needs right now. The company has no problem creating demand for its vehicles, but it does need help in meeting that demand. After missing its production targets for the Model 3 by a large margin last year, Tesla’s challenge for 2018 will be to start fulfilling over 400,000 pre-orders for the car. And after the Roadster’s space flight on Tuesday, that number should only continue to rise.

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