Volkswagen Says Regrets Name-Change Prank After Outcry

The announcement, two days shy of April Fool’s Day, raised eyebrows however firm spokespeople insisted it was real, leading to widespread media protection earlier than VW ultimately revealed that the rebrand was a joke dreamt up by its advertising crew.

German automotive large Volkswagen voiced remorse Wednesday over a publicity stunt that duped main media shops and was criticised by AFP as a “breach of trust”. The outrage got here after Volkswagen only a day earlier stated in a press launch it could be altering the identify of its US subsidiary to “Voltswagen” to focus on its shift in direction of electrical vehicles.

The announcement, two days shy of April Fool’s Day, raised eyebrows however firm spokespeople insisted it was real, leading to widespread media protection earlier than VW ultimately revealed that the rebrand was a joke dreamt up by its advertising crew.

“Volkswagen of America developed… a national US marketing campaign, with a wink, to draw attention to Volkswagen’s e-offensive,” VW spokesman Christoph Ludewig instructed AFP. “From the start, the goal was to generate attention for an important corporate and industry topic in the USA,” he stated. “The large amount of positive feedback on social media shows we achieved this goal. At the same time, we regret if in the eyes of some, we overshot the mark of the campaign.”

Reporters reacted angrily to the stunt, with some mentioning that it was tone-deaf coming from an organization nonetheless recovering from the 2015 “dieselgate” scandal, when Volkswagen was pressured to confess it had for years used dishonest software program in vehicles to dupe emissions checks.

Phil Chetwynd, international information director of AFP, wrote to Volkswagen Group to protest in opposition to the deception. “We understand when a spokesperson is not in a position to confirm or comment on a piece of information. But we never expect them to make false statements,” he wrote.

“We strongly think serious journalists and news outlets should not be used by companies like Volkswagen for marketing and advertising purposes. For us it is a very grave breach of trust which must not be repeated.” USA Today enterprise reporter Nathan Bomey additionally voiced anger, accusing VW of mendacity to journalists.

“This was not a joke. It was deception. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you’re part of it. Why should anyone trust you again?” he tweeted.

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