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Internal Tesla marketing document reveals how the company tried to position itself as a lifestyle brand that makes the world's best cars

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 16 Jan 2020

This month, Tesla became the most highly valued car company despite selling far fewer units than Ford or GMdespite claiming to spend nothing on advertising and only $70 million on marketing last year.An internal marketing document viewed by Business Insider shows that it sought to be seen as a lifestyle brand that makes the highest-quality products in the world.The document puts a big emphasis on promoting Tesla cars' esthetic appeal and calls them the "safest, quickest" out there.Click here for more BI Prime stories.Tesla's valuation hit a record high this month, with the electric car maker's market cap exceeding Ford and GM combined despite selling far fewer cars than those giants.The Palo Alto-based company doesn't do traditional advertising and is known for being secretive about its operations. But according to an internal brand positioning document created for Tesla by a marketing vendor and reviewed by Business Insider, Tesla wants to be seen as a lifestyle brand known for the high quality of its products.Tesla representatives did not respond to a request for comment.Tesla markets itself as a lifestyle brand that goes well beyond 'the safest, quickest cars on the road'In the internal document, dated early 2018, Tesla sees its "ecosystem" of products, which range from the signature electric cars to wireless phone chargers, solar panels, and surfboards, as a "one stop shop to power your lifestyle."The document shows how Tesla wanted to "empower" customers to manage their energy consumption, but stopped short of making heavy-handed references to "purpose" or the company's mission of helping the world transition to sustainable energy.Instead, the document emphasizes the quality and exclusivity of Tesla's products and potential savings of going electric with phrases like "maximize your economic benefit."The key theme of the company's marketing is that Tesla makes "the best products in the world," designed to provide the "best experience ever" by way of greater energy independence. "Our cars are the safest, quickest cars on the road," the document reads.Around the time the document was produced, the National Safety Council and similar organizations questioned the veracity of these claims and others made by Musk.The document also reinforces the seriousness of the brand by encouraging references to Tesla's aesthetic appeal and warning against copywriting tropes like puns.Tesla has eschewed paid advertisingMusk tweeted last year that he'd rather put ad dollars into making better products.Tweet Embed: //twitter.com/mims/statuses/1129924410339495937'ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Tesla does not advertise or pay for endorsements. Instead, we use that money to make the product great. https://t.co/SsrfOq1XycYet the company spent $70 million on "marketing, promotional and advertising costs" in fiscal year 2018, according to SEC filings.Tesla relies heavilyon direct, or email-based, marketing to drive online sales. It also gets far better engagement on social media than other major auto brands without paying for placements, thanks to superfans who closely track its products and stock valuation and Musk's pronouncements.The fact that the company's strategy focuses so heavily on earned media driven by its reputation reflects employees' deeply held belief in its mission, said a source from the vendor who worked with Tesla on several digital marketing and design projects. The source, whose identity is known, requested anonymity because he or she is not authorized to speak publicly about the business."The mythology of Tesla and Elon is very valuable to them," the source said. "They control their earned media story very well."Got more information about this story or another ad industry tip'Contact Patrick Coffee on Signal at (347) 563-7289, email atpcoffee@businessinsider.com or patrickcoffee@protonmail.com, or via Twitter DM @PatrickCoffee. You can also contact Business Insider securely viaSecureDrop.SEE ALSO:Casper doesn't only want to be a mattress company. Here are all of the products it might build next, according to its IPO filingJoin the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith ' the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network
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