Elon Musk says Tesla will 'try a little advertising'

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Elon Musk attends TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME)

Tesla, a company that has long eschewed conventional advertising, is going to "try" out the scheme, CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday during the automaker's 2023 annual meeting of shareholders.

Tesla doesn't pay for traditional advertising like other automakers. And it hasn't really needed to. The company has become incredibly popular through other methods of marketing, like emails, referral programs that incentivize existing owners to attract customers and, of course, Musk's many tweets.

Tesla has even turned to its loyal customers for homemade ads. In 2017, after a Tesla supporter posted a letter on Twitter that his young daughter wrote suggesting the company hold an advertising contest, Musk agreed to the idea. The contest, dubbed Project Loveday after the 10-year-old girl, named YouTuber and tech reviewer Marques Brownlee as the winner.

Back in 2010, Advertising Age celebrated Tesla as one of "America's hottest brands" due to Tesla's reliance on the quality of its product and word-of-mouth from early customers to raise the company to what is now an iconic standing as an electric vehicle automaker and technological innovator.

"Our owners become our ambassadors," Musk told Advertising Age at the time.

Now, Musk seems willing to shift that line of thinking as the company aims to promote new car features and advertise the affordability of its vehicles.

"We'll try a little advertising and see how it goes," Musk said Tuesday in response to a question from Kevin Paffrath, AKA Meet Kevin, a YouTuber and financial analyst whose ETF ticker, PP, counts Tesla as its largest position.

Paffrath noted that Tesla could advertise features like over-the-air updates that improve airbag deployments, or counter common beliefs that Teslas are "super expensive" when in reality "the starting price for Tesla is below the average car price in the U.S."

Musk agreed, noting that his experience as CEO of Twitter, a company that is highly dependent on advertising, has shown him that "advertising is awesome, and everyone should do it."

"I think I hear your sort of larger point, which is that there are amazing features and functionality about Teslas that people just don't know about, and although there's obviously a lot of people that follow the Tesla account and my account...it is preaching to the choir, and the choir is already convinced."

What's unclear is what a Tesla advertising campaign might look like. If history provides a guide, Musk will turn to one of his other companies as a resource. (Musk companies like The Boring Company, SpaceX and Tesla are known to share resources.) In this case, Musk may turn to Twitter to launch the first Tesla ads.