Don’t Observe Tesla’s Advertising and marketing Mistake


Inform us you don’t know something about advertising and marketing with out telling us you don’t know something about advertising and marketing.

Final week, multibillionaire and advertising and marketing genius Elon Musk fired the newly fashioned content material and advertising and marketing workforce one yr after he begrudgingly stated he would “attempt a little bit promoting and see the way it goes.”

Information of the dismissal got here simply after quite a few reviews of the bugs, failures, and restricted gross sales of Tesla’s latest product — the larger and fatter Again-To-The-Future DeLorean referred to as the Cybertruck. It additionally got here simply earlier than Tesla’s newest earnings report.

Must you care that 40 individuals in Tesla’s advertising and marketing and content material workforce had been eliminated unceremoniously? Is {that a} good factor for the model?  What does it say about your prospects in advertising and marketing?

We went to Robert Rose, CMI’s chief technique advisor, for his take. Watch this video or learn on for his takeaways:

What a distinction a yr makes

Final week was powerful for about 40 individuals in Tesla’s advertising and marketing division. Nevertheless, I think about many in all probability noticed their go away coming in a method or one other.

Their departure was a part of an ongoing broader layoff at Tesla, which earlier introduced plans to scale back its international workforce by 10%. Provided that Tesla nonetheless counts greater than 140,000 staff, the overall layoff quantity may ultimately hit 30,000 to 40,000. So, shedding 40 advertising and marketing and content material people who find themselves extra appropriately described as communications professionals isn’t essentially the most significant a part of the Tesla story.

However what resonates with me essentially the most is Tesla’s sudden turnaround in its beliefs about advertising and marketing, promoting, and content material as a contemporary firm. Solely a yr in the past, Elon Musk seemingly begrudgingly stated he would attempt promoting. At the moment, the content material workforce already existed, however they acquired a brand new mandate to “attempt a little bit” promoting. A yr into that experiment, Elon stated the adverts had been “far too generic” on his X platform.

However had been they? Possibly they had been, and perhaps they weren’t. Possibly his workforce wasn’t sufficiently big or lacked the talents to supply wonderful model promoting. Possibly the workforce did magnificent work however couldn’t get it accredited. Possibly they did however couldn’t get it promoted correctly. At the moment’s fashionable marketer realizes so many issues that get in the way in which of doing — and publishing — excellent artistic work.

Little question, the previous Tesla advertising and marketing and content material groups must be pleased with the work they did. In a LinkedIn put up, the group’s chief, Alex Ingram, wrote in regards to the demise and thanked his workforce for the wonderful artistic work they did through the years.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Historical past doesn’t repeat, nevertheless it does rhyme

Again in January, which appears like historic historical past, I wrote about Solo Manufacturers throwing its model advertising and marketing workforce below the bus after a disappointing gross sales quarter of its Solo Range regardless of their wonderful artistic work. Its Snoop Dogg marketing campaign went viral, however six weeks later, the corporate hadn’t achieved the specified gross sales, so it fired the CEO. I identified that one thing greater was in all probability at play, however they felt compelled to make the advertising and marketing plan the scapegoat.

So right here we go once more, however this time it’s Tesla. Because the well-known quote says, “Historical past doesn’t repeat itself, nevertheless it does typically rhyme.”

Although most information reviews say the 40-person workforce had solely been round a yr, my studying says the staff had been round quite a bit longer than that. In Alex’s LinkedIn put up, he mentions they’d been doing the work in comms, public relations, and social media since 2019. It was Elon’s quote to “attempt a little bit paid promoting” that was a yr previous.

On the floor, the dear comms workforce was doing attention-grabbing issues, however then they needed to attempt promoting. It didn’t work to Elon’s liking, so Tesla removed the workforce.

That makes nearly as a lot sense as tearing down a social media platform to its studs to see what is going to break after which being shocked when it does.

Sadly, as I discussed throughout the Solo Range problem, entrepreneurs have to be used to this. When issues go amazingly effectively, advertising and marketing nearly by no means will get the credit score. It’s the genius CEO’s imaginative and prescient, the extraordinary gross sales workforce, or a celebrity product that received the day. Then issues fail, and it’s nearly all the time advertising and marketing’s fault.

It’s a Faustian cut price that entrepreneurs have accepted since advertising and marketing has been round.

Don’t take any takeaways from Tesla on what to do

What annoys me essentially the most is when a CEO, board, or management workforce feels the necessity to throw advertising and marketing below the bus when it’s assuredly not their fault. If issues had been going nice for Tesla — and they’re actually, actually not — would Elon take day trip of his busy day to thank the advertising and marketing and content material workforce that created the adverts? In fact not.

So, why, within the face of shedding 10% of Tesla’s workforce, would he exit of his solution to throw shade at a workforce that makes up 0.0002% of the corporate and say that their work was “generic”?

As a result of Elon thinks he is aware of higher, and his insecurity requires him to say the quiet half out loud. Extra troublesome are the management groups throughout the trade who will hear this pronouncement and, as they did in Twitter’s dismantling, say, “Possibly we must always do this too.”

Spoiler alert for these leaders: Don’t. Tesla all the time thought-about advertising and marketing and branding as an afterthought. Its famous absence just isn’t laudable however one of many myriad signs of challenges the automobile firm has. There are not any classes to be realized right here for any management workforce apart from what to not do.

To the previous content material development workforce at Tesla, bon voyage. Let me know if I can do something to assist. Your work was unbelievable. Your fellow advertising and marketing and communications practitioners are with you. You’ll all find yourself in a greater place.

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Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising and marketing Institute