By Andy Greenaway
At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting Elon Musk, the man who doesn’t believe in advertising, made a remarkable statement.
“A lot of people follow the Tesla account or my account on Twitter, to some degree it is preaching to the choir, and the choir is already convinced . . . so we’ll try a little advertising and see how it goes.”
So why the sudden change of heart from the man who has vociferously inveighed against the need for traditional marketing.
Well, to begin with, Tesla is no longer the only EV in town. When Musk became CEO of the company in 2004, he took over a car company that was building the right product, for the right time and in the right environment (sorry for the pun).
He didn’t need advertising. Tesla cars literally sold themselves to a fervent and growing number of people who wanted to do right by the planet.
Today, the maturing EV market means that Tesla can longer rely on, ‘Hey, we’re electric, we’re saving the planet.’ Other carmakers are in the game of saving the planet, too. The EV market has grown to the point where it’s not enough to be the cool, new shiny star among a sea of combustion engine relics.
Tesla spends almost nothing on advertising. Meanwhile, Ford spent $370 million on advertising last year, Toyota hit $1.1 billion, and General Motors spent $1.35 billion.
This has had an impact on Tesla’s U.S. EV market share. It has dropped from 72% to 54% since January 2022. And some analysts believe it will shrink even further in the next few months.
Part of the problem is that the Tesla brand is inextricably entwined with Elon Musk’s brand, which has become more and more toxic. Creating a strong brand platform could help uncouple the two.
But can Musk pull it off? Talking about advertising is one thing. Doing it with flair, poignancy and effect is another thing entirely.
After his speech to his shareholders, Musk took part in an interview with CNBC. He added that Tesla would be interested in running ads that were informative, aesthetically pleasing and beautiful.
This article was first published on MARKETING Weekender
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