While watching the simulcast launch of Tesla's Model 3, Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson saw the following similarities to low-budget, late-night local dealership TV ads. In a commentary titled "3 things Elon has in common with your local car dealer," he wrote:
Advertising the low price of a base car few buyers may want
Legacy car dealers: One of the oldest car dealer advertising 'tricks' is to advertise an irresistible price for a popular car — say a lease for under $150 per month — in order to generate showroom traffic, only for the car shopper to later realize that the price is for a base model with little appeal (e.g., no power windows, manual transmission).
Tesla: Generate up to 500,000 reservations with a $35,000 price point, only to later reveal the total price for a fully equipped car could reach $59,500.
Limited availability of the car you came in for, but plenty of the larger, more expensive ones
Legacy car dealers: Once the prospect is on the lot after seeing an ad for a cheap vehicle, the salesperson steers the customer toward more expensive vehicles, often noting that there's a better selection of colors.
Tesla: Reminding Model 3 reservation owners that the production ramp will be slow at first, and there are plenty of Model S's (with Federal tax credits as well) to drive off in the meantime.
The dealer is the star of every ad
Legacy car dealers: Much to the likely chagrin of marketing execs with their carefully constructed, thoroughly focus group-tested brand imagery, the local dealers often insist on being their late-night on-air advertising stars.
Tesla: Since the brand revolves around Elon (and not the thousands of engineers and assembly line workers who help make the vehicle), most of the webcast featured Musk.