Volkswagen proves it's the real April Fool with questionable PR stunt

Herndon, Virginia – Volkswagen sent shockwaves through the internet with a highly controversial April Fools' joke.

Volkswagen's April Fools' Day joke didn't get the positive reaction the automaker intended.
Volkswagen's April Fools' Day joke didn't get the positive reaction the automaker intended.  © IMAGO / regios24

Bloomberg News reported that the car manufacturer published a draft press release on its website on Monday, announcing a sensational name change to promote electric vehicle use. The message was then quickly removed.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen released a statement indicating they would now be known as "Voltswagen" in the US as "a public declaration of the company's future-forward investment in e-mobility."

But this was all meant as a prank. "The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fools' Day," the automaker explained after removing the statement from its US site.

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The advertising campaign seems to have backfired, with many saying it underplays the urgency of transitioning toward sustainable energy sources.

Tom Morton, chief US strategy officer at the New York advertising firm R/GA, said, "This is the most pressing challenge of the auto industry: 'Can you go electric?' Choosing to joke about it undermines their commitment."

The scrutiny comes at a time when Volkswagen is poised to release its electric ID.4 crossover in US showrooms. The company hopes to compete with Tesla in electric vehicle sales.

It's not the first time Volkswagen has stirred controversy with advertising stunts.

In 2020, the car company came under fire for a commercial in which a white person's hand could be seen moving a Black man around the screen. The hand then flicked the Black man inside a shop.

As if it couldn't get any worse, the sign above the building read Petit Colon, which translates as "Little Colonist."

Cover photo: IMAGO / regios24

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