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Was an unprepared executive the cause of an on-stage disaster at Tesla’s Cybertruck reveal event?

By November 22, 2019 News & Viewpoints

Some would say Elon Musk is a showman, above all else. Every time the Tesla founder steps foot on stage, he draws hordes of company loyalists and unmatched media attention.

Last night, the Silicon Valley billionaire revealed his company’s first-ever pickup, the Tesla Cybertruck. And while calling its angular design polarizing may be the understatement of the decade, the truck and event have become internet sensations overnight.

Tesla revealed the truck in similar fashion to the brand’s previous model introductions, outside of the typical auto show circuit, while dozens of new vehicles were unveiled in the preceding days at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Constantly bucking the trends of an industry rooted in tradition, Tesla manages to consistently pull in big media coverage. The new model and its reveal event have gone viral, with news outlets and social media accounts that don’t generally cover automotive picking up on the story.

The truck’s non-traditional appearance was first to spark commentary, but the on-stage stunt during the reveal is also garnering attention. At the event, Musk was keen to prove his Cybertruck would not only compete with the current lineup of half-ton pickups from established automakers, but that it’s even more capable. To demonstrate, he brought an assistant on stage with a sledgehammer to test a standard steel door vs. the Cybertruck’s hardened-steel door panel. After a few swings, the results were convincing.

Then the truck’s new high-strength glass was put to the test, where it passed a small series of initial live tests using small steel ball bearings. Then it was really time to prove the material’s strength, when the assistant was asked to hurl a softball-sized ball bearing at the driver-side window. This is when things went sideways, with the glass shattering on back-to-back attempts. I believe this was not meant to happen. Others here wonder if it was a stunt to generate even more coverage. I’m skeptical since it literally shattered the “bullet proof,” rugged image they were selling. The fail was laughed off in real time, but as an integrated communications agency focused on transportation among other areas of expertise, it has us asking whether a dress-rehearsal was ever conducted. How could a company with so much on the line not practice this test beforehand? Was it simply bad luck or downright unpreparedness?

While we generally prefer to retain a positive outlook, we just don’t see how the glass would’ve failed the test in the lab but broken twice on stage. So, despite the impressive specifications of the truck and dramatic show that came with it, we can’t help but think a little practice could’ve helped avoid this disaster.

Several media outlets including Business Insider have picked up on the mishap, casting an even dark shadow on the already controversial new truck.

The event’s blunders are an excellent example of why exceptional practice and preparation are key to success at any live event.

Watch the full replay of the live event here, courtesy of Digital Trends.

Steve Diehlman is an account director in Stratacomm’s Detroit office. In case you missed it, Steve recently shared learns from his time as a Lyft driver.