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Elon Musk's PR goes stellar

February, 2018

When it comes to building a brand, there can't be many people better at it than Elon Musk. While he may be a billionaire and therefore not be short of a bob or two, there's little doubt that he's a modern day P.T Barnum.

He's successfully built the Tesla brand, the 100% electric driven car, as aspirational, and then spun-off the technology to create a battery storage and solar panel business.

While not everything has gone without a hitch for Elon Musk, such as not hitting car production figures for the latest Tesla model, he continues to be the poster boy for the tech world.

SpacemanStellar performance

However, his latest business SpaceX has successfully bridged the gap with the Tesla brand and thanks to the successful $90m launch of Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket, from Cape Canaveral, he has literally sent his brand stellar.

Space exploration may not appeal to everyone. However, sending an open top red Tesla roadster into space driven by a crash test dummy dressed as an astronaut, while listening to Bowie's 'Life on Mars', is not something you see every day.

It was the small touches that really delivered the added PR value. In homage to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the roadstar's dashboard displayed the words 'Don't Panic', with a copy in the glovebox.

The Hitchhiker's reference was noted by Stephen Fry who tweeted: 'Congratulations @elonmusk and #SpaceX - how I wish Douglas Adams were alive to see "Don't Panic" in large friendly letters on the Tesla. That was a classy addition', to his 14m followers. Fry's followers are dwarfed by Elon Musk's 19.2m followers, with a further 6.3m followers for SpaceX.

Importantly, two of the Falcon's three rockets safely returned to Earth, having completed their mission, proving to the world that Elon Musk's vision and technology offered a rebirth for space exploration.

Many will view the whole event as a PR stunt by the eccentric billionaire. The reality is he has stolen a commercial march on his space-race competitors, as he's shown his system works for $90m compared to $435m for the launch of rival Delta IV Heavy by United Launch Alliance, the joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

It just goes to show a great product combined with stunning PR and creativity can deliver real commercial value.

Andrew Metcalf - Director

Andrew Metcalf

Maxim / Managing Director

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