Elon Musk on SNL was a PR Case Study on Humanization
By: Jonathan Lubic
This past Saturday, May 8th 2021, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made his Saturday Night Live debut on national television, where the episode reportedly ranked in the top three this season from viewership numbers alone.
While this was a monumental cultural moment for the self-proclaimed Dogefather, there was so much more to the evening besides a Saturday Night Live ratings boost. Regardless of the substance of the skits (i.e. Dogecoin, SpaceX, Tesla horse), this was a PR case study in humanizing a person, a brand and a company.
People buy from people. This is one of the biggest reasons why brands spend thousands of dollars to add an authentic “human feel” to their social media (looking at you Wendy's) or why company executives have a focus on showing off their personal and family lives. Society perception often paints billionaires as “wealthy, disconnected from society, out of touch, emotionless” robots that just make endless money and are completely unrelatable. Social media and PR have been tools for many of these high-profile individuals in helping them fight back on these stereotypes and show that they can also be a regular human with emotions that are not only focused on money.
At Distinction, we are very aware of the challenges it takes to overcome corporate stereotypes and audience preconceived notions. We put a focus on helping our brand clients “humanize” themselves through strategic recommendations and targeted media strategies. This even includes small tweaks to a brand’s marketing presence like having the brand place elements on their websites that show the founders and their story. This is also why our PR programs focus on securing press around the executives in the company, not just the product, because customers want to know the people behind the products.
In Elon Musk’s case, SNL did a very good job at showing his humor (albeit, kinda weird). He was self deprecating in some skits and ironic in others. He even did a couple skits that required him to play characters and change elements of his personality to best fit it (i.e. Wario skit).
While SNL didn’t make Elon Musk America’s newest sweetheart, it did show his more “relatable” attributes and provided a positive PR boost to his image and his companies. Wouldn’t be surprising if Tesla sells a couple more cars this week because of his appearance on the show!