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Published on August 21st, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert


Tesla Scores Again With “Interactive” Marketing

August 21st, 2014 by  



We hope the above “interactive” ad for a Tesla Model S captures your attention, too. It’s one of three that have been making the rounds on the internet for the past 24 hours or so. Okay, what’s Tesla got, in the way of corporate marketing, that Nissan (and Toyota, Ford, Chevy, etc) don’t?

Advertising Age gives us some telling facts: Nissan spent $25 million exclusively advertising the Leaf EV two years ago. Tesla, however, puts a lot more money into research and development than it spends on selling, general costs, and administrative expenses, which include marketing. With no traditional advertising, dealer network, or chief marketing officer, Tesla works with a headquarters EV marketing team of only seven people.

How do they get the word out? Adam Jonas, who covers Tesla for the investment firm Morgan Stanley, told Eric Loveday of insideevs that Tesla’s unconventional approaches to advertising work fine:

“Elon Musk is a marketing genius, in our view. A tactful use of social media means a tiny car company has the best known financing program on the planet…. Mainstream original equipment manufacturers are being taken to school here.”


Siimon Reynolds hailed the highly unorthodox Tesla EV marketing in Forbes magazine as “going out to your customer in an exciting way.” He went on about the 35 Apple-like showrooms in upscale shopping malls. Loveday also pointed out that “Tesla relies almost exclusively on social media and on its number one fan, CEO Elon Musk,” for digital “word-of-mouth” advertising on Twitter and Facebook.

But it’s the third technique that has the internet buzzing over Tesla EVs today. The sleek, environment-lovin’ luxury car brings out the best in its admirers by tickling their curiosity—and organically challenges award-worthy creative types to volunteer Superbowl-style internet freebies with aplomb, brilliance, and true love for the EV product. (In this case, the producers would be Jesse Brown and Derek Taylor of the Miami Ad School.)



Loveday captured a big slice of the new ads’ appeal right away this morning:

“We’d be willing to bet that at least a few of you actually clicked on the ‘interactive’ ads to experience the interaction.  You don’t have to admit to it. That’s okay.”

He sure got me right. Took a little while to realize that these one-liners are advertising something that’s NOT there by NOT presenting it. But because my sheepishness seems to reflect a trend rather than an anomaly, the laugh is what stays with me. That personal product engagement with an electric vehicle is probably worth more than what might have lain at the end of a thousand mouseclicks.

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

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