The electric car manufacturer Tesla plans to launch the new Model 3 in 2017. It shall be offered for the affordable amount of 35.000$, but combined with a purchasing option sold by Tesla in advance for 1.000$. More than 400.000 people have already paid for the privilege of buying the Model 3 by now, though they haven’t seen the car yet.
But how does this work?

How can you delight and persuade so many people to bond so close to your brand? It seems simple, you just need a touching campaign, an innovative plan and a creative Genius.

The personal approach

Tesla’s main objectives might not be creating turnover in the first place rather than building a brand that changes people’s attitude towards electric cars and supporting sustainability in terms of the changing environment.
The way Tesla does this lays in creating an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Many Tesla drivers have launched meet-ups or social gatherings for fellow owners and enthusiasts to connect with one another. The customer is in focus of Tesla’s Marketing strategy, as you can see in their “customer stories” campaign, where they personally report their brand experiences, which went viral recently:

This campaign shows how one innovative and life changing product meets different needs of different individuals at once and unites them to achieving a bigger goal.

Doing it on zero budget

Tesla Motors has no classical advertising, no ad agency and no dealer network. And that’s no problem. Tesla follows a so called “$0 Marketing Budget Plan “where basically all communication through the brand is established by an in house marketing team of seven members without any paid advertisement. Compared to competitors like Nissan spending $25 million in advertising, this unique concept really concentrates on the core competence of Tesla – by selling a slice of the future if form of a highly engineered and unique designed car. The moment consumers understand the capability of electric cars and the technological lead by Tesla, the hype starts. At the time of writing a post via Social Media Tesla has more orders than they can build – that itself is great marketing.
The loyal customer base is managed in an interactive way, like in the viral customer stories campaign, as well as letting the consumer influence the product development process. This condensed mode of brand communication boosts the word to mouth communication between fans and customers, of the most innovative company in 2015 and 2016 even more.



Tesla Model 3, source:

The engine behind the engine

Now we know what they do and how they do it, but where is the source and what’s the drive behind. We already learned that brands are not things and that Tesla is not a car. It is more, it is an idea, a futuristic concept and a detailed designed beauty on four wheels. Knowing that brand equity is intangible and built on communicating your values to the customer, you need to find a way to identify with the target group. This can be wonderfully done in adding personality traits or projecting the brand on a celebrity. But what kind of celebrity is Tesla? Tesla is Elon Musk and Elon Musk is Tesla. The CEO and product architect of the company himself is the ambassador, who communicates the message of environmentally friendly and affordable car transport. In being directly involved in building up the company and bond through a fanatic passion for the use of clean energy, nobody can embody the core values of Tesla in a better and more effective way. Concentrating on the task itself and being passionate about what he does the brand promotion comes from alone. Interviewers go crazy for speaking a couple of words with him, Twitter posts directly impact the stocks and YouTube spreads his word to the technological oriented audience in high speed. Elon Musk, the local South African, who turned himself into a brand of progress is the engine behind the extraordinary and world-changing engine.


By Carolin Welser, David Kuehner and Axel Dieckmann

Stellenbosch, 15.09.2016