Volkswagen Rebrand to ‘Voltswagon’ April Fools Prank Gone Wrong
April Fools came early for the car manufacturer Volkswagen, unfortunately no one got the joke.
April Fools’ Day is a pseudo-holiday typically full of false corporate announcements and is celebrated on April 1 each year.
The fiasco began on Monday, March 29, when the company released an unfinished and now unpublished press release announcing plans to rebrand to “ Voltswagen of America”. On Tuesday - March 30- the company published a finished press release that the move was a "public declaration of the company's future-forward investment in e-mobility."
The joke was lost on the media and the public who took the announcement at face value. Wall Street took it seriously as well with VW stock rising more than 10%.
Who would've thought a PR stunt based on lies would backfire on a company trying to regain people’s trust?
Just four years ago VW plead guilty to three criminal felony counts and paid 4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties as a result of a long running scheme to sell 590,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. by using a “defeat device to cheat on emissions tests mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and lying and obstructing justice to further the scheme.”
Many speculated that VW actually intended to rebrand and purposely set up the release to be around April Fools’ Day in case they needed to walk it back and if there is any truth in that, they did.
Here’s what twitter had to say:
Volkswagen's sense of humor was fitted with a defeat device.
— Brendan McAleer (@brendan_mcaleer) March 30, 2021
Dear Volkswagen: You lied to me. You lied to AP, CNBC, Reuters and various trade pubs. 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? https://t.co/1rcKT7p0u5
— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) March 30, 2021
Volkswagen PR’s idea of an april fool’s prank is just “lying in march,” incredible work
— mack (@MacklinHogan) March 30, 2021
The overall reaction was negative but it seems some people actually liked the idea of a rebrand.
On March 31, Volkswagen shared a non-apology on twitter as if this is still some big joke rather than an enormous public relations misstep. There’s never been a single joke that’s damaged the trust the media has in a company’s word. Until now.
Do you think Volkswagen should have participated in April Fool's Day this year or was it too early? Let us know in the comments below.