It is a nice custom around the world for the press departments of automakers to come up with April fools. Sometimes they cause laughter, sometimes they go wrong. With the supposed renaming to “Voltwagen”, VW has hit the jackpot in North America: Almost the entire media landscape fell for the gag, which, however - and that made it difficult to classify - had leaked two days earlier.
In the professionally made press release, VW USA boss Scott Keogh was quoted as saying: “We may replace the K with a T, but our commitment to building the best cars in their class - for their drivers and for people everywhere will not change . ”And Keogh added:“ This renaming is a nod to our past as a car for the people - and an expression of our firm belief that our future lies in being the electric car for the people. ”
While the Internet forums were vibrating and the brand experts were already taking a position on the sensational news, the group kept itself in elegant silence. Press inquiries were answered evasively - an invitation, perhaps to do a little more research. Whoever did that, for example the US journalist Bozi Tatarevic, found out, for example, that VW had by no means secured the rights to this model name.
The term “Voltwagen” also appeared on the US customer site, and it is still there. Because this is not just an April Fool's joke, but also a marketing campaign intended to underline the Group's electrification strategy. Nevertheless, VW has now made it clear: Of course, the cars are still called Volkswagen. After all, it is still one of the strongest brands around.
Meanwhile, unrest has broken out among the journalists who fell for the April Fool's joke: VW had “lied”, indignant The Verge website. The Washington Post found a communications professor who described the action as "tasteless", while a specialist magazine judged the April Fool's joke was "poorly implemented". The Reuters news agency reported "criticism in social media" for the "misleading press release". And the good old “auto motor und sport” even conjures up a “PR disaster”.
It is a little easier to understand such humorless reactions when you consider the massive credibility problem of the media. Anyone who rises above "fake news" shouldn't be fooled by an April Fool's joke. Not even when he's done as well as this one. (ampnet / Jens Meiners)