Tesla and Elon Musk kind of got some free advertising in the Super Bowl this year. If you think about it, companies paying millions of dollars to take shots at Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, does count toward advertising.
Why Free Advertising?
Polestar took some shots at Tesla during the Super Bowl, but it should be added that Tesla isn’t the only automaker that Polestar took shots at in that ad. My colleague, Steve Hanley, has written about that. Read his article here. You can consider the following article an add-on to his.
Salesforce also paid for an ad in the Super Bowl and took shots at Elon Musk, as well as Mark Zuckerberg. Although, it seemed more geared toward Elon Musk, since the ad included actor Matthew McConaughey mocking the idea of crossing the boundary of human achievement and going to Mars. The ad put forth the idea that focusing on the advancement of humanity, which SpaceX is doing, is escaping reality. Further, the Salesforce ad aired not long after SpaceX’s Starship presentation.
Salesforce put forth the message that it is time to plant more trees, build more trust, and make more space for all of us instead of looking toward Mars and the Metaverse. To be fair, I am not a fan of Zuckerberg, but I think that Salesforce had a chance to market its product here on a wide scale and failed miserably. The marketing team chose to be petty instead. After all, pettiness is what gets all of us talking about them.
You would think that these other companies wouldn’t spend millions to give Elon Musk and his own companies free advertising. It would make sense to invest those millions into your own company rather than redirecting the focus to the one you consider a competitor.
The Difference Between Elon Musk & These Other Companies
You don’t see Elon Musk taking out an ad in the Super Bowl to take shots at other companies or people. In fact, Tesla does not spend money on advertising at all. Yet, thanks to a screenshot of a Google search provided in the tweet below, you can see that a lot of people were doing searches on Tesla during the Super Bowl.
Arrow points at Tesla google searches during Super Bowl
Automakers certainly did great giving Tesla some free advertising 😄 pic.twitter.com/rFz9rWSrZJ
— Tesla Owner (@HelperTesla) February 14, 2022
How is it that these other companies with millions of dollars in marketing budgets are failing at marketing their brands, yet Tesla, a trillion-dollar company that isn’t spending money on marketing, is searched for in much larger volumes during the Super Bowl?
The answer to that question is Elon Musk himself. Elon’s voice is loud and clear and doesn’t need millions of dollars in ad budgets to get his point across. This reflects back onto his companies, most notably Tesla and SpaceX. Both are highly successful, and the successes themselves are what does the marketing for the companies. This is rare. Usually, a company will need to spend money on advertising in order to achieve success. Tesla and SpaceX have had successes without spending money on advertising. (Note that Tesla has spent quite a lot of money on customer referral rewards, but nowhere in the vicinity of the advertising dollars spent by competitors.)
And many can’t seem to grasp how they’ve done it despite Elon Musk laying out the recipe for anyone willing to follow it. In a 2017 interview with Y Combinator, Elon shared what he focused on:
“Almost all my time, like 80% of it, is spent on engineering and design. Engineering and design, so its developing next-generation product. That’s 80% of it.”
The interview was focused on building the future, and in the very first part, Elon expressed the importance of doing something useful for the rest of society.
“It doesn’t have to change the world — if you make something that has high value to people.
“And, frankly, even if it’s something, if it’s like just a little game or some improvement in photo sharing or something, if it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I think that’s fine. Stuff doesn’t need to change the world just to be good.”
I’ve noticed that the other automakers themselves are making EVs not at the core because they benefit society, but to compete with Tesla — which is now threatening their businesses. Although this is a good thing for society, it feels as if the hearts of those leading the other automakers aren’t focused on being a positive change in the world, while Elon is focused on being a positive change in the world. This is the difference between Elon Musk and the other companies that feel threatened by him. Threatened to the point where they spend millions of dollars for one 30-second ad in the Super Bowl to make a point. These companies focus on Elon Musk. Elon Musk focuses on product development.
Featured screenshot from Twitter user @TheMostBoringM2.
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