I’ve been in love with an automotive brand before, but never like this. Volkswagen, you make me laugh; you’re clever. You’re exactly what I look for in a Super Bowl ad. Mercedes-Benz, you’re a class act that fills me with nostalgia. Ford, we share the same values; you’re nothing short of an American icon.
But I’ve never felt like this before—until Tesla.
I want, and expect, great marketing from the brands I buy. And I will absolutely change loyalties if a brand I once favored produces a campaign that doesn’t align with my sensibilities. So how did a brand without a big budget win my heart? Tesla tapped into the essence of what makes good marketing powerful—to do what so few can—provide an emotional connection, a vision for the future, and something to believe in that is more meaningful than what’s parked in your driveway.
The visionary, and complicated, Elon Musk is not only the figurehead of Tesla (and head of product); he is also the man behind Solar City and SpaceX. He doesn’t just want to make beautiful cars; he strives to change the way we travel, make Earth inhabitable longer, and send people to Mars.
I want to support a brand that is not one small step for the environment, but one giant leap toward Mars!
The brand has certainly hit a few bumps along the road, but it has had unparalleled praise as of late. Tesla shares were up as high as $110 (up from $35 just three months ago) and the company reported a quarterly profit for the first time, one that exceeded Wall Street estimates. Aside from having borrowed a stimulus loan of $465 million, Tesla is now valued at nearly $20 billion dollars and intends to repay the loan five years early.
Online consumers are also expressing their interest in the Tesla Model S. Traffic to Tesla pages across the Jumpstart portfolio of sites is up 86% over last year. This spike is the result of increased interest from a variety of consumers as well as a migration to Tesla from Fisker—once a real competitor, now a classic case of “what could have been.” Audi, a consistent stronghold in the luxury space, should also keep an eye out as consumers who are looking at the A6 and A7 are also looking at the Model S.
Critics rave about Tesla, like those at Consumer Reports who declared the Model S the best car ever tested. And despite projections that its lofty price tag might prevent car buyers from paying all that green to go green, more people bought the Model S than any of the similarly priced gasoline-powered cars from the Top 3 German luxury brands in Q1 of this year. And, 2013 Model S sales estimates just recently jumped from 20,000 to 21,000.
The Model S is a quiet beauty that resonates with modern car buyers, some of whom have likened it to “driving an iPad.” It makes a statement of greater purpose while turning heads in the process.
It made a believer out of me. But, with a starting price of $62,400 for the smallest battery and $87,400 for the performance model—not to mention a plug-in infrastructure that is still in its infancy—for the time being, I’m only expressing my love via the stock market. I hope to one day be united with my own Model S, but nobody ever said true love was easy.
Laura Schooling is Chief Marketing Officer of Jumpstart Automotive Group, an expert digital automotive marketing and advertising company, and division of Hearst Magazines.