Apple, Tesla and Next Generation Marketing

How do you deliver a strong brand message?

About ten years ago I bought an iMac. It was one of those white plastic 17″ ones back in the day. A great computer, although this unit had some quality control issues. Through its lifetime I had to take it out for repairs at least three or four times.

When the computer was 4.5 years old, it wouldn’t start. I called Apple’s customer service and explained the situation. They asked me to, once again, service the device. I told them that this was the fourth or fifth time that the same device would be serviced, which was becoming a bit frustrating. The customer service person asked me to hold the line.

When he came back, he told me that I was correct and that his supervisor had authorized to swap the device. I was amazed, and explained that was this really ok, since the computer was so old. He said yes. The next problem I spotted was that at that point Apple didn’t carry the white iMacs anymore. The cheapest model was a flat 21″ aluminum iMac, which was about ten times the computer I had at the moment. This, too, was no problem.

I took the broken machine back to Apple. And I was completely blown away, when two days later a UPS courier rang my doorbell and delivered a brand new 21″ iMac to my home.

I have told this story dozens of times, and I am pretty sure that while Apple may have lost a few hundred dollars in replacing the machine, this kind of marketing advantage is worth more than a thousand printed ads.

A few days ago, I was even more blown away what a great product by great people can do. I mean the two comics that Matthew Inman, aka The Oatmeal, drew of his Tesla car. The value of such a message is beyond calculation, what with The Oatmeal being super popular to begin with.

But this was topped off with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction. When Inman asked Musk for his help (with 8 million dollars to boot) in building a Tesla museum, what the super CEO tweeted in response was:

I would be happy to help.

People in marketing tend to occupy themselves with brand design, graphic desing, copywriting, typesetting and a gamut of different ways of communicating how cool a product is, whatever it is.

But what with the world being more and more networked, it seems there is a marketing methodology that blows all the Mad Men stuff out of the water.

This is already in my opinion the most powerful marketing methodology. It may well be on the way to becoming the paradigm for the next generation of marketing. And it’s really simple.


a) Be nice.
b) Build awesome things.


The Dublin Web Summit 2013 and Startup Culture

What happens when 10 000 of the brightest minds in technology gather together in Dublin? This week saw the latest installment of what has become the largest technology event in Europe, the Web Summit. Or, as it was now rebranded, simply The Summit.

The event gathered hundreds of startups together, pitching concepts, sharing ideas and creating new networks. The atmosphere at the event was simply outstanding, what with thousands of people really excited and engaged by their own passionate projects, as well those of the others’.

What struck me as one of the most interesting aspects of the event was how the entire crowd fell in place together, with practically no differentiation or evaluation of people, whether they were alpha stage startup founders or world-class serial entrepreneurs.

The explanation, I suppose, is pretty simple. The startup culture is about potential. These ten thousand people have realized that although someone may not yet have the big breakthrough in their hands, with enough hard work and enough experiments they are very likely to land one day on something valuable.

As one of the investors I met at the event – who was looking to invest from 50 million upwards – said, you never know what’s going to be the next Pinterest. To this end, even a multi-million dollar investor will meet the blazing-eyed idea cannon on equal grounds.

Another thing that I found interesting about the event was the amount of awesome ideas people were developing. It struck me that pretty much every half sound idea that I have heard somebody talk about is already being done by somebody else. What this means is that no matter how great the idea you get, someone else will be at it already.

To this end, it is superbly important to find an idea that you are truly passionate about. This was repeated again and again by the speakers at the Summit, such as Gentry Underwood of Mailbox, Drew Houston of Dropbox and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX. Even if you have the best idea in the world, it’s worth nothing without execution. And executing ideas is some of the hardest work in the world. So you’d better love what you’re doing, or you won’t be doing it for very long.

Altogether getting a look at the European startup scene was truly exciting, coupled with the amazing talks, meetings, and, of course, the delightful Irish pubs.

If you have anything to do with the startup scene, I suggest you take a look at what is going down in Dublin at next year’s Summit. And even if you don’t, it might be worthwhile to look at how the next generation is changing the world.