Legacy Auto Paid To Advertise EVs On SNL Last Night, While Tesla’s Elon Musk Hosted

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In a move that proves that Tesla is the leader of the auto industry in at least one sense, legacy automakers — Ford, Audi, and VW scrambled to get some EV advertising on Saturday Night Live last night. Lucid also joined the legacy automakers in this endeavor. This is a win for those of us trying to convince our friends and families to switch to a cleaner vehicle. How does this prove that Tesla is the industry leader? Well, Tesla’s CEO was the host of last night’s episode of SNL.

The Verge noted that a total of five of Tesla’s competitors bought ad time during last night’s SNL episode and that commercials for the Audi e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, and Lucid Air all aired within the first 20 minutes of SNL.

The article noted that it wasn’t just EV companies either. Sierra Space is a rival of SpaceX and it purchased several spots that will run on YouTube clips of Elon Musks’s appearance on SNL. The Verge noted that Sierra Space is also targeting non-SNL video clips of Elon Musk on YouTube.

USA Today also noted there were four automakers that bought ad time, but this time naming Lucid, Ford, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

Legacy Auto Had To Pay For What Tesla Got For Free

Tesla is notorious for not buying advertising, and in the days leading up to Elon’s appearance on SNL, there was ample proof that Tesla doesn’t need to spend anything on advertising. Elon had the Tesla Cybertruck on display at a Tesla store in Manhattan, and when it wasn’t on display, he was driving it all over the city. This led to videos and photos being shared to the point that Tesla’s Cybertruck started trending on Twitter.


Naturally, this led to a plethora of news stories about the vehicle on the streets of New York. Business Insider, Fox News, CNET, The Independent, and several others covered the story. We wrote about it being on display in New York and I probably would have written about it being on the streets of New York as well, but I wanted to wait until after SNL aired to write this.

The Independent wrote, “Tesla’s Cybertruck caused a stir in New York City as it took to the streets ahead of Elon Musk hosting Saturday Night Live.”

One notable area that the Cybertruck was spotted in was New York’s Times Square. Investopedia noted that there’s an average of 380,000 pedestrians that go through times Square daily. There’s another 115,000 drivers and passengers as well, and on busy days, that number can go up to a total of 460,000 people, making it one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world. Investopedia also stated that for marketers, Times Square advertising receives roughly 1.5 million impressions day-to-day and that the cost of advertising is between $1.1 and $4 million a year. From Investopedia:

“A Times Square billboard cost for a day can start at $5000 and go up to well over $50,000. Moreover, it can cost up to $3 million per month to advertise on Time Square’s largest billboard. The average cost per impression for a billboard advertisement for the rest of America is much lower, ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 cents.”

However, it’s free to drive there. Well, you’d have to pay for gas if your car isn’t an EV, but, technically, driving on the streets is free. And when you have a vehicle that is as unique and recognizable as the Tesla Cybertruck, driving in Times Square is something that will definitely make the news — especially since many mainstream media outlets love to report on Tesla’s every move.

The tweet above by Eric Rihlmann has been featured in a few news articles. It has gotten over 3,000 retweets and over 17,000 likes on Twitter. It’s also had over 700 replies. Of those retweets, 868 of them were quote tweets, with a range of comments. Someone said they were buying a Tesla while others were asking questions such as, “How does it fair on slushy, snowy roads that may or may not have a nice layer of ice underneath?”

How This Makes Tesla The Leader

Although Tesla’s market cap is three times the size of Toyota’s, which used to be #1, Tesla isn’t the top seller in vehicles — not een close. Tesla is still ramping up production capacity, which take s along time even when done at a hyperfast speed. But it is the most talked about automaker and brand in the auto industry. This is what makes Tesla the leader. Other automakers can’t compete, and thus have to buy the attention.

Think about it. Ford and a few other legacy automakers paid money for 30 seconds of air time while Tesla’s CEO didn’t have to pay a dime for hosting the entire show. In fact, he was probably paid as an actor for his time (I don’t know the specifics, though). If he was paid, he got paid to talk about Tesla and his other projects.

For electric vehicles as a whole, this competitive rush is showing consumers that electric is the future. With Tesla leading the way and being the loudest voice for EVs, automakers have no other choice but to follow if they want to survive what Tesla is doing to their industry.

Featured image designed by Johnna Crider (screenshot of SNL clip made into a graphic)

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider