Tesla has often mentioned that it doesn’t want to do paid advertising, but it often strayed away from that model — maybe never more than with a new massive livestream by a famous Chinese social media influencer.

For years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has famously said that he despises advertising.

He said that Tesla doesn’t pay celebrities to drive its cars or even discount them, and that the automaker doesn’t pay to advertise.

Instead, Musk says that Tesla uses what other automakers spend on advertising to improve their products:

Tesla does not advertise or pay for endorsements. Instead, we use that money to make the product great.

The CEO went as far as claiming that the mainstream media doesn’t like him or Tesla because they don’t buy advertising from them:

You could argue that Tesla has strayed from its no paid advertising policy with some marketing campaigns in the past, and it has never been clearer than in this new example.

The Tesla Model 3 was featured on Taobao stream by one of China’s biggest influencers, Viya:

During the hourlong stream, she explained some of the Model 3’s features and specs to her millions of followers who where able to order a test drive from the stream.

According to Bloomberg, almost 4 million people watched the show:

Almost 4 million viewers watched the hourlong show on the Taobao shopping platform on Tuesday afternoon, seeing livestreamer and influencer Viya demonstrate Tesla features from the music player to air conditioning, even climbing in to the cargo space of a Model S sedan to show how spacious it is.

Viya has been known to sell out products quickly on Taobao, which is a popular shopping website in China that influencers also use to promote products. Most famously, Viya worked with Kim Kardashian to help her sell out her perfume in the country in just seconds.

She generally charges up to 30% commission or hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote products, which are mostly beauty products.

Tesla had a record quarter in China over the last three months and delivered over 10,000 cars in March alone in the country.

Electrek’s Take

You could argue that when Tesla had awards like Roadsters and Powerwalls in the referral programs, it was paying for advertising, but it was still different.

At least, it was just for Tesla owners who already loved their cars, and most of them were promoting the products before the program.

Now this can only be described as paid advertising, unless they somehow paid her with free Supercharging miles through the referral program, which I doubt.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with this, but Elon needs to stop claiming that they don’t do advertising if that’s the case.

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