Advertising class tackles full-scale campaign for trendy Tesla brand

The four students in adjunct professor Joe Perrone’s “Advertising Campaigns” class worked this summer to sell a piece of the future.

They created a full campaign for a new model of Tesla, the electric car that’s causing some nervous shudders around the automotive industry, slated to be released in 2016. It will be the next offering from the company that made its electric sedan available to the masses in 2009.

Students Chris Hutton, Alex Lynn, Meaghan Stuski and Hershey Walton spent the first summer session identifying the brand’s strengths and weaknesses and devised tactics to garner the public’s interest so the Tesla will end up in more American driveways. It’s the first time this type of work has been done for Tesla; the company has never hired an ad agency, Perrone said.

He selected the Tesla brand because of its pervasiveness in the news.

“It’s everywhere. Every channel that you turn to,” Perrone said. “If we’re going to talk about it, let’s get to know a little bit more about the company.”

Working a couple of years in advance of the scheduled release date presented its own share of challenges, since the students had to consider how our perception of this technology will evolve and what Tesla’s competitors might have on deck.

After weeks of research, including a visit to the Tesla showroom in King of Prussia, the students presented their ideas to a panel of judges that included Dana Saewitz, interim chair of the Advertising Department and small tech business owner Mike Inskeep.

Lynn called the Tesla “the case student that future cars will be based on.”

Making a splash in Times Square
They planned a huge launch event in Times Square that would be broadcast live in cities around the world. Their television commercial, led by the star power of environmentalist and Tesla owner Leonardo DiCaprio, shows how the electric car can fit into the lifestyle we’re all leading by showing a series of people plugging in all types of devices commonly used in daily life. It ends with DiCaprio unplugging his Tesla.

Saewitz thought their commercial’s concept was a clever to show that the electric car can fit into a customer’s lifestyle.

“People view electric cars as very complex and scary proposition because it’s so foreign to us. We’re used to plugging in all of the devices that are important to our lives, so this is just one more device,” she said.

Following the formal presentation, the students and judges dove deeper into their proposal, with the judges offering advice on aspects of their campaign and their presentation.

“What I liked most was collecting the information and delivering as well as creating the spots for the campaign,” Hutton said. “I enjoyed the judges giving their insight on the campaign presentation. I feel as though I can utilize their informational feedback, as well as my skills, to better myself overall in this field.”

Saewitz said advertising students will work on a full campaign in their “Introduction to Advertising” class, but in this advanced class, the capstone of the department, “the expectation is that the campaign is on a near-professional level.” The final project encompasses research, strategic planning, transitional media plans, social media and public relations for real brands that have included Comcast, Tastykake, the Boys and Girls Club and Campbell’s Soup. The hope is that the client will take some of the class’s ideas and put them into action.

“If they graduate and go on to work in advertising, this is exactly what they’ll be doing,” Saewitz said. “It’s a very realistic mirror of what they will encounter when they enter the professional world.”

– by Jeff Cronin