Marketing Genius

Marketing Genius

Marketing requires a thoughtful approach that is rooted in clear thinking. The exceptional marketers recognize a fantastic opportunity that is filled with wit and whimsy. The brilliant marketing genius is open to wild and crazy ideas because they are so difficult to do, and their competition would quickly reject them.

Elon Musk didn’t need to put his cherry red Tesla into space to orbit the globe. He could have focused on the publicity that his Space-X rocket would receive from a successful launch.

But someone, probably Musk had a “what if” moment.

What if, while the world is watching, we could do a little stunt that connects emotionally to all of the hopes and aspirations of exploration into the universe.

Either Musk or his team allowed themselves to imagine something absurdly crazy that could break the Internet and harness the emotional connection of the blast off and reentry of their space rocket.

Stunts, Gimmicks and Strategic Imagination

Every marketer needs a little P.T.Barnum. They need to see beyond the practical and look for ways to capture the imagination of those they want to reach. Putting Musk’s personal Tesla in space with Starman, a dummy dressed in a space suit, with a sign saying “don’t panic” is genius. He even put a copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in the glovebox. And the cherry on the top is blasting Bowie’s “Space Oddity” song.

Creating Brand Equity

Promotional activities can feed a brand’s equity with consumers. Brand equity is the sum of awareness, quality, loyalty, and association. By leveraging a media event like the launching of his rocket ship from his other company SpaceX, Musk could build on the publicity that the launch was already generating.

Companies like Red Bull have figured out how to do this too, but Musk’s inspirational marketing genius was fully exposed last week. The positive associations with a car flying through space can only rub off on the Tesla brand.

Lessons for Marketing Professionals

It is hard to find genius ideas like this, not to mention to have the funds to pull them off. But you can still find ways to separate your brand and product from the crowd through publicity stunts, mainly if the right audience is already paying attention and you are on strategy with the brand’s ethos.

  • Think magically. Don’t start with constraints that something is impossible, impractical or unrealistic. Maybe you can’t make your idea happen, but perhaps there is something that is doable.
  • Bring something fun to a place where your target is hanging out. If thousands of your target audience are gathering, like at a convention – think UNCONVENTIONALLY. Maybe you can create a publicity stunt at a trade show that grabs the imagination of the crowd in a way that shines a bright light on your product but unexpectedly.
  • Do what the competition would never do. Can you imagine GM or Ford personnel sitting around talking about putting a car in space? Tesla is a different type of transportation company so, in keeping with their brand, they have to act differently.

Somewhere, Steve Jobs is looking down on outer space, seeing that flying Tesla and smiling.

Could you use some magical thinking for your brand? Let’s talk. Call me at 919 720 0995 or email me at – you can set up a call on my calendar too.

Photo courtesy of Tesla and SpaceX





    Totally agree, Jeff. I’ve been chuckling ever since Musk announced he was putting his Roadster on top of the rocket. The pre-launch publicity was priceless. And the rocket did not blow up, which meant that the Roadster and its dummy could be photographed with cameras placed around the car. And here it is, folks, drifting past Earth, then leaving Earth in background. If it’s possible, those scenes in space were even more priceless. If Musk had done nothing else in the way of promoting Tesla, this stunt alone would have made everybody on this rock aware of the car. I have a huge amount of respect for that guy. And I plan to get a Model 3. 🙂


      Michael, thanks for your comment. Musk is one of those rare figures who seems to have an insatiable appetite to learn, to try and to explore. I admire his initiative and can’t wait to see the next chapter in his life. The Tesla PR stunt/gimmick/event is out of this world genius.


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