Elon Musk, the venerable founder and CEO of cutting-edge companies Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company, has managed to raise a whopping $10 million in a matter of days with, what has turned out to be, quite the controversial product—a Boring Company branded flamethrower.
In what is being heralded as a “brilliant” marketing campaign for his infrastructure and tunnel construction company, the cutting-edge businessman unloaded 20,000 units of the flamethrowers in a matter of days. But, despite the near-immediate success, Musk seems to have overlooked one key detail in his kitschy sales crusade—international customs laws.
Though the flamethrower is, according to the company, “safer than what you can buy right now off-the-shelf on Amazon to destroy weeds,” the product’s name is reportedly stopping paying customers from getting their hands on the fiery devices.
In a February 2nd tweet, Musk reported that “some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a ‘Flamethrower’.” The colorful CEO went on to explain that The Boring Company wasn’t deterred by the snafu and would simply rename the item as either “Not a Flamethrower” or “Temperature Enhancement Device.”
Since releasing the tweet, The Boring Company has made changes to its website to reflect the current customs conundrum—the product is now known as “The Boring Company Not a Flamethrower.”
According to the newest update, the $500 Not a Flamethrowers will start shipping sometime in the spring. Before selling out, the Not a Flamethrowers came with a fire extinguisher add-on sale option, which, is described on the company’s website as both coming with a “cool sticker” and being “overpriced.”
Why (Not a) Flamethrowers?
As evidenced by the impressive sales, the Internet went absolutely wild for The Boring Company’s flamethrowing devices, but the item’s appearance made many wonder what was the deal with the bizarre product. According to Musk, the answer speaks to the impulsivity of consumerism—buying a flamethrower is a “terrible idea” that’s also “really fun.”
Of course, if you dig a bit deeper, any smart buyer will quickly see that the off-beat product acts as a symbol for both Musk’s masterful understanding of today’s most cutting-edge, viral marketing techniques as well as his propensity to make extra cash at every turn.
The Not a Flamethrowers were originally developed and sold to create a buzz for the CEO’s The Boring Company, an entity that, judging by its “punny” name, has an intrinsic understanding of its pitfalls. The average Millennial may automatically write the low-cost tunnel developer off as “dull,” but this unorthodox move has managed to speak to both the younger generation while at the same time securing quite the cash cushion for the burgeoning company.
It’s also important to note that, just because the 20,000 pre-orders have been placed, it doesn’t mean that Musk’s viral marketing campaign is dead. If the buyers are, in fact, able to get these Not a Flamethrowers delivered to them, the company will enjoy even more free publicity by way of further social media posts and news coverage.
While the Not a Flamethrower may be a bonafide hit amongst consumers, the eccentric product is not going over well with some lawmakers.
California Democrat and assemblyman Miguel Santiago, released an angry statement on his Facebook page in regards to The Boring Company’s plans to deliver the Not the Flamethrowers to paying civilians. He wrote:
If this is real, I’m outraged and you should be too. If this is a joke, then it’s a terribly insensitive one given that we’re coming off of the worst wildfire season in history. Either way: NOT FUNNY. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.
Santiago points to the inherent fire dangers that come with using flamethrowers. So far, neither Musk nor The Boring Company has responded to the lawmaker’s threats. In fact, the face of the tunnel-making firm has had, for the most part, kept up a cavalier persona when confronted with questions about the product’s safety.
Clearly, publicly pointing to the Not a Flamethrower’s inbuilt humor is yet another effective factor in The Boring Company’s multifaceted marketing campaign. Even if not even one of these products is able to reach a consumer, Musk has already achieved what so many similar entities struggle to do—getting the attention of the public.
Elon Musk’s hopes for his game-changing Boring Company
In 2016, Musk announced the creation of The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company which was originally inspired by, according to its website, Los Angeles’ “soul-destroying traffic.”
While most forms of transportation entities rely on public funding for further development, The Boring Company, which is an entirely private enterprise, puts the power back into the hands of the consumer.
The company aims to perfect the concept of “3D roads,” in the form of subterranean layers of small tunnels that could make for completely automated transportation at speeds exceeding 600 miles per hour in both personal cars and pressurized multi-passenger “pods.”
Currently, The Boring Company is working to build tunnels in three major metropolitan areas—Chicago, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. The Los Angeles tunnel system, which is already in the preliminary excavation stage, would connect most of the sprawling county, an almost 40 miles from north to south.
Though The Boring Company is clearly breaking new ground in terms of transportation advancement, Musk himself admits that the revolutionary firm is more of a “hobby” for him, considering he only spends roughly 2-percent of his time on the venture.
We’ll keep you posted on all things Boring Company—whether or not, the Not a Flamethrowers actually end up getting delivered to customers!