Companies give product presentations all the time, and sometimes they work better than others. In some cases, like at Tesla's Cybertruck launch event, they don't work at all.
I'm not even sure how the pitch would go. Probably something like, "Hey boss, I think it would be really cool if we throw this metal ball at the windows on our new pickup truck to show that they won't break."
I'm not an expert on these things, but I feel like if that's something you plan to do live on stage during your product launch, you might want to try it first to see what happens. I don't know, that just seems like a no-brainer, right?
Apparently, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk thought it was a great idea, which is why he was standing next to two broken windows on the company's new Cybertruck. According to Musk: "We threw wrenches, we threw literally the kitchen sink at the glass and it didn't break. For some reason, it broke now... I don't know why."
Apparently they didn't throw a metal ball at it. Which, might have been a good idea if you're planning on tossing one at the window of your prototype during a live event.
I mean, the truck is made from what Tesla calls "ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless steel," which means it's basically capable of stopping a bullet from a 9mm. And it describes the windows as armored glass, which doesn't seem like something you need driving an electric pickup truck to work every day. Of course, nothing about this particular pickup truck seems like what you'd drive to work every day.
Though, it's technically not the first Tesla pickup truck to hit the streets. That honor belongs to a YouTuber who managed to hack her Model 3 into something, well, interesting.
The most expensive version of the Cybertruck has three motors and can tow 14,000 pounds. It also has a 500-mile range and can go from 0-60 mph in under three seconds. That's not an ordinary pickup truck. Nevermind that this truck looks more like something from a video game, or the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan's Batman films.
All of that is great, except that if you are launching a new product it's probably good not to point out how strong the windows are by smashing them with a metal ball. Twice. That's right, after breaking the front driver's side window, they did it again. I'm not allowed to print Musk's exact response, but he did manage to point out that "it didn't go through--that's a plus."
Is it though? Because the bigger point here isn't that the window broke, it's that somehow that feat happened without someone thinking to try it before. Sure, it sounds like Tesla tried a lot of other "smashing devices," but not the one they actually planned on trying during the demo.
It would be like bragging that the newest iPhone is capable of withstanding a drop from waist-height by dropping one on stage, without ever actually dropping one to see what would happen. Or, perhaps you did, but you never thought to see what would happen if you actually dropped it on the stage.
You can argue that this was sort of a freak accident, and that's fine, but it wasn't an accident. This was an intentional demonstration designed to shock an audience with a major wow-feature.
You can do that, but you shouldn't if you haven't figured out whether it will actually work. That's just a basic presentation best practice, and it's an extremely important lesson, regardless of your product. Musk has certainly cultivated a reputation as a showman, and he regularly makes bold--and even outlandish--claims. Most of the time that has worked to Tesla's benefit.
This time it meant that Musk stood next to a brand new product with two smashed windows as he bragged about the rest of the features of this product. Almost every photograph of the event has Tesla's carefully choreographed graphics showing above a strange-looking pickup truck with two broken windows.
The Cybertruck starts at $39,900 and you can reserve one with a $100 deposit on Tesla's website. Broken windows are, of course, not included.