Event Marketing & Experience

When Failing Can Be Good for Your Product Launch

Victoria Rudi
February 21, 2020

Table of Contents


Everyone talked about it when Elon Musk failed. He smashed the supposedly unbreakable glass of the Cybertruck.

“Tesla suffers broken glass mishap at the launch of the new truck,” “Watch the Tesla Cybertruck’s unbreakable glass, uh, break …” these are only a few of the stories that media outlets put out there.

What was supposed to be the launch of the year transformed into a disaster. Or at least, that’s what we thought back then. 

In case you didn’t follow the event, Elon Musk ran a demo of Tesla armor glass, during which he asked someone to try and smash it with a heavy object.

People expected to see the object bounce back from the glass without breaking it. The exact opposite happened. The glass broke. Elon Musk decided to repeat the test and asked the same person to try and hit again. The second glass broke, accompanied by witty jokes and laughter. 

For obvious reasons, the journalists presented the event as a product launch failure. The surprise though occurred a bit later, when Tesla received 250,000 Cybertruck preorders in five days.

How did a failed product launch lead to such a big success, considering that according to Forbes, Cybertruck could bring in over $4.5 billion in revenue for Tesla by 2025?

Maybe Elon Musk is a genius marketer after all? Here’s our take on how the company managed to transform failure into a good thing. 

? It was all over the news

Instead of the standard press about how Tesla launched a new great product, the news outlets finally had something controversial to talk about. Because of all the noise, even if you didn’t know who Elon Musk is or what Tesla does, you’d still find out because of this major failure.

Typical news stories listing the features of the new Tesla truck may go unnoticed, but when there’s drama involved, more press will write or talk about you, giving you free promotion. 

? Failure grabs more attention than success

Apart from free promotion, failure grabs more eyeballs than success. After all, would you be more interested in watching a few Cybertruck clips showing what it can do, or seeing a video of the truck windows getting smashed?

The answer is pretty obvious.

Like it or not, drama and failure attract more attention and get people talking. There was an outpouring of people on social media discussing what happened and giving their opinions about the event. Some said it was an unfortunate event for Tesla; others stated that Elon Musk planned it all as a marketing stunt.

? The meme fabric worked overtime

There’s no better way to grab attention than by generating a meme-worthy story or incident. Even people who didn’t read about the Tesla launch could still see the funny memes.

There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to posting memes of the failed Tesla launch. People were discussing it everywhere and creating additional content, driving even more attention and brand awareness. 

? Failure merchandise was hype

This one was a brilliant move by Elon Musk. Instead of getting upset about the failure, he knew how to spin it and gain more attention because of the hype.

He launched a new Tesla product: a t-shirt emblazoned with an image of the broken window of the Cybertruck. Called “Cybertruck Bulletproof Tee,” the shirt sold for $45.


So instead of launching endless press releases about the things that went wrong during the launch and how they’d fix it, Elon Musk did the unthinkable—he rode the wave and started to promote his “failed” product even more. 

? We still remember it and talk about it

Now imagine if the product launch would have run flawlessly. Do you think we would still be talking about it? Would I be writing this article? Probably not. Nobody would care.

Some news outlets would pick up the story, highlighting the features of the Cybertruck, and then we’d move on to something else in one hour or less. What happened, though, was that this entire failure story transformed into countless memes, videos, social media conversations, explosive news, laughter, and jokes.

People remember it to this day and probably still smile or laugh when they hear the words “Tesla truck.”

The takeaway here is that by knowing how to spin his failure, Elon Musk made us remember his product launch and have an opinion about it. Is there any other marketing “trick” more powerful than this one? 

The one thing we can all learn from Tesla

One thing we can learn from the Tesla truck story is that a product launch that goes wrong can still be a good thing. The secret is not to panic or overapologize.

Also, it’s good not to take yourself seriously and try to have a good laugh about it. Your attitude will dictate the way people react to your failure, so make sure to have a healthy approach and try to spin it.

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Victoria Rudi
Senior Content Specialist
With a Master’s degree in Event Management and a keen follower of SaaS technologies, Victoria is an event content master, producing insightful and valuable for Eventtia’s blog and beyond

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