Tesla founder Elon Musk told the automaker’s shareholders this week that it is time for Tesla to consider advertising.
Musk recently named ex-NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO.
"So I guess I should say advertising is awesome, and everyone should do it," Musk said at the annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas. "We'll try out a little advertising and see how it goes.”
Tesla has never advertised or worked with automotive journalists to generate earned media for its vehicles. Musk tweeted in in 2019 that he "hates advertising" and "We use that money to make the product great.”
The brand’s first stop in its advertising run is an experiential event this weekend at Electrify Expo Long Beach. This is the first consumer event that Tesla has appeared at in years, says BJ Birtwell, founder and executive producer of Electrify Expo.
The brand joins Ford, BMW, Toyota, Volvo, Kia Lexus, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Mitsubishi and other brands in what is billed as the nation’s largest EV festival. The weekend event allows consumers to ride, drive and demo telectric cars and trucks, e-motorcycles, e-bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards across 1 million square feet of festival space.
“We are bringing out consumers with real purchase power that have the power to really move the needle, which is a demographic that Tesla is looking to hit,” Birtwell tells Marketing Daily. “When you’re planning an advertising mix, more than getting the maximum impressions, it matters that they’re the right impressions. We are the top event for car shoppers and buyers in the country and are essentially bringing the exact right people together that Tesla wants to convert to customers.”
Musk told CNBC after the shareholder meeting that he was surprised by their level of enthusiasm for advertising. He acknowledged that people who followed him on Twitter are likely already knowledgeable about EVs, and that outreach to others new to the brand could be helpful. He said he is still considering what type of advertising would be most effective for the brand.
“I believe that advertising should be informative about a product [and] it should be ideally aesthetically pleasing,” Musk told CNBC. “And it should be something that you don't regret watching after it's done. And I think if advertising fits those criteria, that it starts to approach content, you want advertising that is as close to content as possible, such that you don't regret the time you spent watching it.”