The shift in Elon Musk’s stance on advertising has caught the attention of advertising industry veterans. According to recent comments from several industry veterans, Tesla’s advertising strategies going forward — especially at this point in the EV transition — could hold great potential for the automaker.
For years, Musk has been staunchly anti-ad, arguing that Tesla would rather spend the money it would put into advertising on improving its products. While this strategy worked in the past when Tesla was just a fledgling automaker, things are different now that the electric vehicle sector is becoming more populous and Tesla is already the largest player in the field.
Tesla noted that there is no such thing as an “electric vehicle market.” There is only a car market. And with Tesla now producing more than a million cars a year, the company needs to attract as many customers as possible, including those who aren’t fully aware of the benefits of electric cars. Tal Jacobson, the new CEO of advertising technology company Perion Network, told Reuters Tesla will likely adopt a unique approach to its advertising strategies.
“Tesla hasn’t been like any other car company, and it won’t start now, so expect a creative breach that speaks to Tesla’s disruptive technology and personality. His ability to use the media to amplify his and his company’s brand is an art form,” Jacobson said.
In a commentary following the 2023 Cyber Roundup, Musk shared with CNBC That he doesn’t really have a fully formed Tesla advertising strategy yet. However, he noted that the company’s advertisements should be “product informational” and “aesthetically pleasing”. “It has to have some technical element to it. And it has to be something you don’t regret watching after it’s over,” Musk said.
Bob Gruters, chief revenue officer of streaming platform Loop Media, noted that Tesla probably won’t spend excessively on brand mosaics similar to what Apple has done with its famous 1984– Based on the Macintosh commercial that aired during Super Bowl XVIII. “I don’t think Musk would spend as profusely on brand mosaics as Apple has, but…a simple, futuristic approach is what I’d see him take,” said Gruters.
Kimberly Whitler, a professor at the University of Virginia Business School, also reports that while Musk is effectively the face of Tesla, the CEO’s polarizing personality may not be appropriate for an ad campaign. Is he an effective ambassador? I think there’s a less polarizing, more motivating and persuasive way to communicate the benefits of a brand than using Musk as a spokesperson.”
Thomas Martin, Senior Portfolio Manager at Globalt Investments, shared his optimism about Tesla’s new direction. “Obviously they’re going to have to focus on what’s good for the environment and also what’s the car of the future rather than your dad’s Oldsmobile,” said Martin.
Advertising intelligence firm Vivvix estimated that Tesla spent approximately $151,947 on advertising in the United States last year. On the other hand, Ford spent $370 million, Toyota spent $1.1 billion, and General Motors (GM) spent about $1.35 billion on US advertising. Globally, it is estimated that General Motors spent $4 billion on advertising and promotion last year. That was nearly twice as much as Ford, which is estimated to have spent $2.2 billion last year.
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