Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Try Advertising

Marks Major Departure From Strategy
Elon Musk
Elon Musk (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk said the electric carmaker will dabble in advertisements, a major shift for the company that has largely avoided traditional marketing.

“We’ll try a little advertising and see how it goes,” Musk said May 16 at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, in response to an investor’s question.

Shares rose more than 2% in premarket trading.

Tesla has long prided itself on word-of-mouth among its fan base to market its vehicles. It’s built a formidable brand without paying for television, radio or print ads.

Musk said in a subsequent interview with CNBC that paying for ads could be a way to expand beyond Tesla’s existing user base.

“It’s worth a try and we’ll see how effective it is,” he said. “I only just agreed to it so it’s not a fully formed strategy.”


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Musk has used Twitter, which he now owns, as a marketing tool for Tesla. The social media site depends on advertising as its primary source of revenue, something newly appointed CEO Linda Yaccarino is expected to focus on.

Musk told CNBC that some companies had pulled ads from Twitter after facing criticism from the social media site’s own crowdsourced fact-checking feature known as community notes. He didn’t name the advertisers, but said it cost Twitter $40 million.

Musk also said that he’s going to continue to say what he thinks on Twitter even if it causes some advertisers to abandon the platform.

“I’ll say what I want, and if the consequences of that is losing money, so be it,” he said.

With assistance from Aisha Counts.

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