So which stunt is more compelling? A skydive from the edge of space or putting a car into space? I think my vote has to go to Elon Musk’s Roadster even if it has been claimed that it was a backup payload after other organizations refused the offer of free transport on the new rocket.
Backup or not, as if the vision of a possible colony on Mars and the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy did not capture people’s attention, the sight of Starman sitting in the Roadster while orbiting Earth is compelling. And as a Douglas Adams fan, I love the fact that the Roadster’s screen displays the words “Don’t Panic” because seeing a car in space does feel like something Adams might have imagined.
In his weekly round up of what is new and interesting in the world of marketing Dan Calladine comments,
“Surely no one will create a better marketing stunt this year than putting a car into orbit. It’s a perfect bit of synergy between the two of Elon Musk’s companies, and must have generated immeasurable PR coverage for the Roadster.”
He goes on to ask, is there a brand better at generating buzz? To which I would answer no. Why? Because every business Musk creates is designed to stretch the boundaries of the possible and is executed in way that captures people’s attention. When General Motors launched the EV1 in 1996 it gave us a jelly mold of a sedan; when Tesla launched its first car in 2008 it was with a flashy looking roadster. Now, not only has one of Musk’s companies created the world’s biggest rocket, that investment has been leveraged to create the biggest PR opportunity in the world.
To my mind this confirms that truly ground-breaking brands do not need advertising, provided people see the product or service itself as meaningful and different. Some companies manage to milk this opportunity for a long time because they continue to push the boundaries and make news, think Amazon and Tesla, while others find themselves coming up against competition that requires them to build salience with advertising not just rely on news coverage and word of mouth.
Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown