Last week I wrote about why Tesla should advertise. That stimulated plenty of discussion, some pro, some con, and a fair amount of pushback. This article is meant to address the many points raised by commenters and add extra perspective to the first article.
The top comment makes the point that Tesla is already advertising with the referral program and that a change in strategy could end this. As we know, this program has been modified countless times, but its end may or may not be a good thing. It would cost Tesla less in Supercharging credits or future Roadster 2.0 giveaways, which means a reduction in future costs, a point that doesn’t get much attention. We can expect the referral program to change no matter what Tesla decides to do in regards to advertising, but as long as the program remains, it is indeed an advertising cost Tesla bears now and increasingly in the future.
Many have questioned why Tesla should advertise, since it is still supply constrained. While I won’t repeat the first article, which explains the rationale well (imo), I will point out that Tesla will have real competition soon enough (from VW to Chinese competitors coming stateside) and that education should be the primary goal of an advertising campaign, not brainwashing-type white noise advertising from legacy players.
Media manipulation by the right has caused most people to form opinions that are not based on reality in regards to EVs and climate change, and has also given ideologues “permission” to deny reality (with pathetic talking points for them to parrot). An example of this success is the recent Australian election, where the media sold climate lies to convince voters to reject progress. People don’t easily see through lies they come from the loudest voice on the air. This is exactly why the right spends so much energy manipulating the mainstream media (expect an article on this in the near future). When you have lies and deceivingly easy answers as an information base, you’re going to come up with bad conclusions.
Early impressions can make a lasting impact. By starting at this point in the game, such educational advertising could inoculate the public against the pushback that will continue or even increase for years to come. By telling consumers to expect it, the attacks can have less affect. (“Yes, we will be attacked, because we are better than the gas car competition. Count on it.”)
Tesla can also show why common talking points are lies and teach people why the attacks are happening. Tesla can lift the veil on what’s going on behind the scenes, shining a bright, uncomfortable light on the intentional malfeasance machine for all to see. The goal could be to stimulate a societal discussion with the actual facts at hand, which will help prevent learned helplessness, helping more of the public to become active participants able to intelligently reject lies.
Educational advertising can teach them the basics of EVs (charging at home is easy, tens of thousands more charging options are already available, EV batteries do last longer then your cell phone’s batteries, total cost of ownership makes electric cars compelling).
Also, educational advertising puts renewed pressure on legacy players. If everyone knows EVs are better vehicles, people will start demanding the same from every automaker. We already know gas & diesel vehicle sales are down — could it be because a small percentage are waiting for an EV? A huge sales downturn with a majority of the public demanding EVs now will quickly multiply pressure on legacy players. This helps fulfill a portion of Elon’s original Master Plan and Master Plan, Part Deux:
“The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.”
How Tesla should advertise was covered a fair bit in part one of this series. What I would add beyond educational advertising is that there are no shortage of good ideas for non-traditional advertising. One commenter suggested advertisements should build on each other, which would be ideal for educational advertisements and keep people engaged. Another commenter (and CleanTechnica writer) suggested a type of guerrilla advertising: “I’d like to see Tesla gradually put a few thousand units on Turo (or some other easy way of getting folks to experience a model 3 for a few days) at very low rental prices. Then advertise about this offer.” Another excellent idea.
Converting gas/diesel influencers is also an excellent plan. Tesla’s excellent engineering already turned Sandy Munro, Bob Lutz, and more into praising old-schoolers. Tesla can continue to expand here. Also, there are countless examples of EV owners converting people to Tesla by giving them test drives — expanding or formalizing this would help build the movement towards critical mass. In addition, educational advertising can cover current events in the case that more negative hit pieces are published (they will be), refuting them publicly and strongly.
Finally, let’s just note — this is not a cheap ploy to get CleanTechnica advertising dollars. Since readers here are already way past the basics and already talking about the finer points of EVs, Tesla advertising here would be far less thorough than our tens of thousands of articles and millions of printed words on the topic already are. It would be a waste of Tesla’s money (even if more advertising dollars would get us all raises).