Posted on 4/1/2021 12:47 PM / Updated 4/1/2021 12:51 PM
(credit: Volkswagen / Reproduction)
Volkswagen wanted to make a prank on April 1, but ended up going too far and arousing the fury of journalists and advertisers around the world, who accused VW of strengthening the culture of fake news. The company falsely announced that it would change the brand name in the United States to Voltswagen, with the justification of disclosing a greater investment in electric cars that, according to the company, should make up up to 70% – of the automaker’s global sales by 2030.
The “joke” started on Monday (3/29), three days before “April Fool’s Day”, when the company briefly released an incomplete announcement that the name would be changed. On Tuesday (3/30), the statement took on an official air when a note was published in the press area of the Volkswagen website. The text was serious, explained the concept behind the strategy and did not signal that the action was a joke.
The company stretched the rope even further when, when questioned by news outlets, it confirmed that the name change was true. The novelty went around the world and put Volkswagen at the forefront of large-scale electric car manufacturing and animated the financial market. The company’s stock price reacted immediately, rising from 224 euros to 240 euros in just two days, which made VW’s value exceed 140 million euros.
Only it was a lie and, as the saying goes, “a lie has a short leg”. The disaster of the communication campaign started to collapse when the German Volkswagen was also taken by surprise and, unofficially, denied the name change, which left the press even more confused. Only after being pressured by newspapers around the world did the automaker timidly end up assuming that the statement was an attempt to make a joke.
“What started out as an April Fool’s prank put the world in an uproar. It turns out that people are just as passionate about our legacy as they are about our electrical future, ”said the post on Twitter and Instagram. Then, to the agency AFP, communications advisor at automaker Brendan Bradley also apologized. “We realized that the announcement bothered some people and we apologize for the confusion caused,” said the advisor in the message.
According to the company, the press office had good intentions, but confirmation of the joke was poorly received by the specialized media in the USA. “Dear Volkswagen. You lied to me. You lied to AP, CNBC, Reuters and several other publications. This is not a joke. This is disappointing. In case you haven’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you do part of that. Why should anyone trust you again? “Nathan Bomey, a reporter for the USA Today who initially reported the “scoop”.
In addition, the case also brought up the scandal that became known as Dieselgate. In 2015, when it was revealed that 11 million vehicles underwent a change in the mapping of their diesel engines to “cheat” pollutant emissions tests.
Although he apologized for the campaign fake, until the last update of this report, the notes and posts announcing the change of the company’s name remained on the air, both on the VW website and on social networks.
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