Volkswagen confirms ‘Voltswagen’ as April Fool Joke, Brand Gets Backlash
In anticipation of the April 1st April fools’ day tradition, embattled German auto brand, Volkswagen did bit a little too much than it can chew with its recent Voltswagen hype all in a bid to attract consumers’ attention and generate online media blitz.
Volkswagen’s hype around renaming itself “Voltswagen” in the U.S. was nothing more than an elaborate April Fools’ Day joke; but not everyone is finding it hilarious reports Adage.
Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz called out the announcement as “suspicious” earlier on Tuesday) reports that the company eventually confirmed in a statement to Ad Age that “the renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day.”
VW is expected to provide more details on its prank imminently, but it is already dealing with online backlash, especially from automotive journalists, some of whom quoted anonymous sources assuring them it was real. (USA Today reporter Nathan Bomey, for example, angrily tweeted: “Dear Volkswagen: You lied to me.”)
Certainly, it seems the confusing prank, which didn’t even take place on April 1, could backfire when it comes to the brand’s relationship with the media. Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University, tells Schultz: “A lot of April Fools’ stunts are clearly April Fools’ stunts and they get positive press and people report on how cute the April Fools’ stunt is,” but “this one seems different.” “It might not be the best move for a company with credibility problems to begin with,” he adds.
When the fictitious story broke three days ago precisely on Tuesday, 30th March, Adage and other publications local and international had asked, “Is Volkswagen really changing its name to ‘Volkswagen?’” while adding that the automaker is getting plenty of media attention with the curious and –suspicious just days before April fools’ day.
Finding, however, revealed that the brand is struggling toot and nail to curtail the resultant backlash of the “evil spin” as the corporate brand has to restore the confidence of stakeholders, especially the media.