Elon Musk Built An Epic Brand Without Advertising.

After Tesla shunned a dealer network and discarded advertising, the brand took off. Was it stubbornness or genius? Yes.

Jeff Cunningham
Sep 28, 2017 · 9 min read
Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk

“Ads are dead. The future is about things people want, not things they must endure.” — Lou Paskalis, Bank of America

The first rule of innovation: avoid crowds.

Tesla Model X

The Contrarian

If you want an insight into why Musk does things so contrary to accepted practice, you need to understand how a venture capitalist thinks.

“Put the vast majority of your energy, attention, and dollars into building a great product and a smaller amount into shouting about it.” — Jeff Bezos

The Risk Taker

To Elon Musk, the answer was obvious. This is wasteful. Just like his cars weren’t going to waste energy, he wasn’t going to throw cash away. Instead of advertising, Musk’s instincts led him to build a product that compelled customers to advertise for him. They would also do his research and spread the word contagiously, at no charge. His job was to build the product, open stores, and let the customers post the results on social media. In taking the path less traveled by, he changed automotive and marketing history.

“User-generated media is more efficient and more effective than any medium P&G worked with in the past.”

While P&G Was Watching

While Tesla was moving ahead of the competition without spending a dime, a Midwestern giant marketing machine was watching closely. They recognized this was a game-changer that would influence everything they did going forward. Only it wasn’t a competitor in Detroit.

“We will never master all these technologies. As long as we try, we will forever be on our heels.”

Leap Forward, Don’t Look Back

Today, a thoughtful consumer doesn’t read Consumer Reports or a review in the local newspaper for the latest product information. They turn to Yelp or Amazon for a world of brand switching encouragement or confirmation. Digital rankings have the power and distributed via social media and the internet; the average consumer is practically a consumer goods genius.

P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard

Leadership Mission

The story of “ultra leaders” and the courage to create a…

Jeff Cunningham

Written by

Business professor @ASU. contrarian. immigrant. history freak. media sleuth. former publisher @Forbes.

Leadership Mission

The story of leaders who had the courage to create a better world in times of adversity

Jeff Cunningham

Written by

Business professor @ASU. contrarian. immigrant. history freak. media sleuth. former publisher @Forbes.

Leadership Mission

The story of leaders who had the courage to create a better world in times of adversity

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