‘Voltswagen’ got people talking — though not exactly the way VW wanted.
Sometimes, I get a good kick out of cleverly used puns. On the other hand, sometimes the wordplay gets a bit out of hand and maybe, just maybe, it’s better you didn’t say anything at all. A couple days ago, Volkswagen “released”, then retracted, then released again, then retracted again what was supposed to be a goof: A name change to ‘Voltswagen’. It is (nearly) April Fools’, after all, and Volkswagen of America eventually had to come clean and let everyone know they lied about actually changing the name.
So, “duh”, I hear you utter at your screen. Most folks caught onto this one quickly, and it’s easier to understand the company’s motivations in the context of its most recent launch. Volkswagen’s been pushing their all-electric ID.4 hard through recent marketing campaigns, and this more or less started as an innocuous way to get people talking about their product. They’re certainly not alone in doing it, but the company is facing intense criticism through social media and from outlets trying to keep their audiences informed about the news of the day within the auto industry.
“Just another lie from the folks that brought us #dieselgate,” one person mentioned on Twitter. Others mentioned the odd (March 30) timing, while some were more magnanimous toward VW. “Let’s not be so dramatic. It was kind of fun,” one tweeted, while another noted the company’s push toward EVs.
VW’s March 30 response
In a vacuum, this would be a fun, if a bit clunky, April Fools’ Day prank…if not for the company’s “dieselgate” scandal. It’s been more than five years since the truth first broke about the automaker’s defeat devices on its diesel models, and a wide swath of the general public were brought that into focus as an all too real example of lying and the consequences of doing so.
Volkswagen’s response? An empty wall socket plug and another pun: “Watt happened?”
Volkswagen did indeed get the world buzzing. Here we are discussing the matter again, so if you ascribe to the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” mentality, that tweet makes sense.
Will it actually warm people to the ID.4, though? That will probably depend on how you approach the bigger picture of the whole ‘Voltswagen’ thing, and we’ll have to see how that pans out. Regulators aren’t too happy about the goof gone wrong, though, as the Associated Press reports the fake statement — which saw VW stock prices rise 5% on Tuesday — may land the company in hot water with regulators, namely the Securities and Exchange Commission.