Why Elon Musk’s ‘Not a Flamethrower’ Is Great Marketing

From electric cars to space and now entering the weapon industry

Andrei Tapalaga ✒️
Feb 11 · 5 min read
Elon Musk demonstrates his flamethrower. Image source: Boring Co.

The creative mind of Elon Musk does not stop surprising us even to this day. First was his great success with his chain of luxury electric cars. Then it was the plan to inhabit the moon. And now, why not come up with an actual flamethrower that is legal in most countries in the world?

It all started with Elon being bored. He wanted to have some fun using what I would call an interesting product and enough financial power for a good marketing campaign. This is how The Boring Company was born. The company is all about sarcasm and using this factor as a marketing aspect has worked out amazingly well.

The Boring Company logo (Image source: The Boring Company website)

It’s All About Sarcasm

There are two main factors of sarcasm that have been used as a marketing aspect for this project. The first one is simply within the title and description of the company itself: just another boring company like any other. This is used in a sarcastic way because of the product they are selling, which is a full-fledged flamethrower that has the potential to shoot flames over a four-meter distance.

What may come as even more of a surprise is that this product is actually legal in most parts of the world. This is because flamethrowers are used in different industries for certain tasks, and they do not require a permit in most cases.

https://www.boringcompany.com/not-a-flamethrower

The second main factor of sarcasm is the name of the product itself, which is “not a flamethrower.” This makes the product so much more appealing to the consumer base just because it negates the status of the product itself. At the same time, the aesthetic and design of the flamethrower make it look more like a toy rather than an actual flamethrower. The first time I saw it, I honestly thought it was a water gun.

Some of you may say, why do you consider a flamethrower a weapon? Well, because that’s what it’s classified as around the world, no matter what your intent is.

Even the description of the product is full of sarcasm with lines such as “Fire extinguisher sold separately (for exorbitant amounts of money).”

It’s such little things that win the consumer over. The way that sarcasm has been used in combination with this product is truly incredible. Even the website itself is only a page with the only product they sell (“not a flamethrower”) and the gif presented above.


Elon Musk’s Influence

The main problem is that Elon only wanted to have fun because, as mentioned before, he was simply bored. This project could have made lots of revenue, but he decided to sell only 20,000 pieces, with some possible announcements made that there will be a second version that’ll be enhanced and even more ridiculous than the first one.

All of the marketing success is a bit contradicted in a way. Because of Elon’s presence, many of the consumers who have purchased or are interested in the product may be attracted only by the fact that it’s a product (or company) invented by Elon. The product and the company itself did not have any sort of marketing campaign. It was enough for Elon to present the product: Two months later, they were already sold out.

What is even more interesting is that many people don’t know about this because, at the end of the day, it’s just another boring company (sarcasm). The company could have great success selling other products by using the same sarcastic marketing scheme, which is more than certain to attract customers in the future.

It’s imperative to say that the company did not have any online (as far as I am aware) or offline advertising, so the product got promoted organically through social media.


Design of the Product

The Boring Company actually made public the very simple way they designed the product and how much it costs to produce. This shows the initiative the company has for fun rather than professionalism. By today’s marketing standards, this is accepted as it’s just another factor to attract the consumer.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/13/heres-how-to-make-the-boring-companys-flamethrower/

Showing the design of the product and how simple it is supports the sarcastic marketing scheme. When you think of a flamethrower, especially one that is crafted by Elon Musk, you think of something very complex and futuristic. But no, that is not the case. This is just a boring company with a very fun project in mind.

The flamethrower was made using the following things:

  • Airsoft gun
  • Hose
  • Propane tank
  • Bottle holder
  • (And most important of them all) Blow torch

That’s all the technology put into this product, of course with some extra fittings as safety measures. As a marketer, I want to say that there are many things to learn from this so-called boring company.


Marketing Done Right

You see in today’s society — and especially from a marketing perspective — that we try to make everything so complex to win more and more customers, when the answer can sometimes be found in simplicity, the type of simplicity presented by this company.

This company really goes to show that its brand is really a strong point (as it should be). You need to treat the brand as a second personality. You define what you want to be and to present; therefore, you should do the same with your brand.


I hope you have enjoyed this boring article and even taken a few pointers home.

Better Marketing

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Andrei Tapalaga ✒️

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Avid Writer with invaluable knowledge in Business Studies, History and Psychology. “You make your own life” atapalaga97@gmail.com #1 top writer in History

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