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Model Zero

While Tesla may have a TechnoKing and Master of Coin there is no room for a Chief Marketing Officer in the company’s c-suite. Tesla shockingly spends $0 on advertising. No TV ads, no billboards. A top 10 company by market, let’s look into how Musk has made this possible.

TechnoKing of Tesla, Master of Coin…Musk has given the c-suite some unique names in the last year. The one position without an outrageous job title? Chief Marketing Officer. That’s because Tesla doesn’t have one. Tesla has never spent a cent on paid advertising. The biggest car company in the world, a top 10 company by market cap runs its advertising like a mom-and-pop corner store.

Car companies traditionally spend big money on TV ads, event sponsorships and billboards. In 2019, BMW alone spent almost US$200m on advertising. To be clear, Tesla certainly spends resources researching the market, testing ideas with users which can all be classed as marketing, but paid promotional spend is zero. Don’t believe it? Here it is straight from the CEO’s fingertips. And again.

Tesla believes the company’s limited cash flows are better spent on its vehicle development. This makes sense when your cars practically sell themselves. Next-generation features wrapped into a sleek metallic exterior mean every time a Tesla drives past, onlookers recognise and comment on it. Linked to this is Tesla’s generous referral program. A successful referral grants referrers $1000 credit to use on a new vehicle. Referral marketing has a long track record of proven success. Much of Uber’s growth over the last decade came down to their referral campaigns…and unsustainably subsidising rides but that’s a story for another Wrap.

Then there is their outspoken, celebrity CEO Elon Musk. With 59.2m followers on Twitter, Musk moves markets within 280 characters. Known as a global visionary, Musk has built an audience as his reputation as the real life Tony Stark grows. Musk can advertise product announcements and company news to an immediate audience of 60million. That’s billions in advertising value at zero cost. The chance of virality, and the chance to be seen by an even bigger audience is only compounded by Musk’s never-hold-back sense of humour and attitude.

Underpinning Musk’s reputation and Tesla’s reach is the fact they produce an exceptionally high quality car. A car that can be updated to include new features via wifi, incredible safety and an environmentally friendly edge mean Tesla’s tend to sell themselves.

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