Elon Musk considers Tesla ads to counter media bias

Elon Musk says he is considering Tesla ads, which go against the company’s current marketing policy, to counter what Musk perceives as media bias against Tesla.

For years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said he despises advertising. He said Tesla doesn’t pay or offer discounts to celebrities to drive its cars and the automaker doesn’t pay to advertise – although we’ve seen exceptions before.

Instead, Musk says Tesla is using the money other automakers spend on advertising to improve their products:

Tesla does not advertise or pay for endorsements. Instead, we use that money to make the product great.

The CEO went so far as to claim that the mainstream media doesn’t like him or Tesla because they don’t buy advertising from them.

Now, in a new interview, Musk says Tesla could start advertising to counter this perceived media bias:

Maybe we should advertise because mainstream media won’t run negative automotive stories because automotive is one of the biggest if not the biggest advertisers in newspapers. Tesla is basically a free game. It’s safe to say that if they publish a negative article about General Motors next to a General Motors advertisement, General Motors marketing people will call them and ask: why did you do that? We will spend nothing for your publication next year.

Musk has suggested that Tesla could start advertising to avoid bias, but that’s not a priority right now since the automaker has high demand that far exceeds its production capacity.

Electrek’s Grasp

Musk is not wrong. I’m sure the lack of publicity is part of the problem with Tesla’s treatment in the media, but there are so many other factors at play.

Above all, Musk has developed a tendency to lump all negative coverage into one category: people who have ulterior motives about him or Tesla. This is a problem because there are real concerns about Tesla and its actions that deserve negative coverage. Let’s not forget that.

Now, to Musk’s point, there’s definitely unwarranted negative coverage of Tesla in the media, but I don’t think it’s all intentional. It’s largely incompetence.

If he wants better media coverage of Tesla, he should start by building a new PR team. I know Tesla was getting unfair coverage when it had a PR team, but the team was always understaffed. A strong PR team would help correct coverage and increase the level of accurate information reported about Tesla in the media. It will never be perfect, but it would certainly be better than now.

I certainly think this approach would help more than ad spend, which is problematic if your real goal is to reduce negative coverage. To fix this, you’ll need to spend specifically with posts that you think are unfairly covering you up because you’re not spending money with them. Do you really want to reward this kind of behavior?

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