UMSL Business Blog

Cybertruck: Guerrilla Marketing?

By Zach Kozelichki

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, you might have stumbled across the latest trending news in regard to Tesla’s latest vehicle, the Cybertruck. There was a promotional event held to announce Tesla’s latest release, which attracted a great deal of fanfare and a sizeable amount of media attention. However, unless you’re a Tesla enthusiast, a stock shareholder, or an Elon Musk superfan, the event may have passed you by.

During the demonstration of the Cybertruck, which has a variety of cutting edge, futuristic features, one of which is armored glass that is claimed to be impenetrable to bullets, Musk brought out designer Franz von Holzhausen to demonstrate the strength of the windows. Musk even went as far to instruct von Holzhausen to throw small steel balls at the windows from a short distance. The expectation, per Musk’s various comments, was that the ball would only bounce off the window without leaving so much as a scratch. Instead, the ball crashed into the window leaving it cracked in a sort of spider web type fashion. As if one demonstration was not enough, Musk instructed von Holzhausen to throw another steel ball against the rear window, which produced similar results! One could assume this to be a to be a PR disaster for Tesla. That what was supposed to be a unique selling point backfired during the moment of truth, but I believe Musk had planned it to happen this way all along.

I have just read a few pieces from those who claim that this might have been a classic example of guerrilla marketing, and it makes quite a bit of sense to me. For individuals unfamiliar with the term, guerrilla marketing refers to a strategy in which a company uses surprise or unconventional marketing methods to promote their product. Maybe this was the plan, maybe it was not, but several videos have since been released that display von Holzhausen throwing steel balls at the window, but without any sign of damage.

It is obvious to me that this demonstration was intended to be part of the event. It was not a spur of the moment action. If this incident was accidental or planned, it will likely never be known to the public, but there is a case to state it was a clever piece of advertisement concocted by the marketers at Tesla. I maintain this stand because Musk has recently stated that 200,000 orders have already been placed for the Cybertruck, it has not even been on the assembly line for six months yet. So, the next time you want to get mass exposure for your product, don’t be afraid to think outside the box like Tesla did with the Cybertruck, it just might pay off.