(Berlin) The German automaker Volkswagen said on Wednesday that it “regretted” that its hoax announcing a name change in the United States in favor of “Voltswagen” went beyond the framework of the commercial coup by deceiving many journalists who expressed their anger.
Posted on March 31, 2021 at 11:15 p.m.
France Media Agency
AFP has expressed its disapproval of the method used, described as a “very serious breach of trust” by news director Phil Chetwynd.
In a statement Wednesday, Volkswagen explained that its false announcement the day before was “a marketing campaign”.
“We regret that some people see us as exceeding the campaign target,” said group communications director Christoph Ludewig in a written statement.
The American branch of the manufacturer officially announced Tuesday to rename itself “Voltswagen” to symbolize its turn towards electric before explaining after several hours and numerous times in the international press, including AFP, that it was a joke of the 1is avril.
Everything had been done to give this announcement an official character, with a press release and change of the Twitter account. Contacted by initially incredulous journalists, spokespersons in the United States and Germany had confirmed the name change.
“We understand when a spokesperson is unable to confirm or comment on information. But we never thought they could make false statements, ”lamented AFP in a letter to the Volkswagen group on Wednesday.
“We strongly believe that rigorous journalists and media should not be used by companies like Volkswagen for marketing and advertising purposes. For us, this is a very serious breach of trust which must not be repeated, ”the letter emphasizes.
Volkswagen explained on Wednesday that “the objective was to generate attention” for a major subject for the group, the shift towards the electric car.
“The large number of positive reactions on social networks show that we have achieved this objective”, assures the manufacturer.
But there was also plenty of criticism from journalists and negative comments, saying the joke was in bad taste from a group that has in recent years been in the headlines for the “dieselgate” engine rig scandal. This case cost Volkswagen billions of euros and part of its reputation.
Others also complained that the group was involved in spreading false information: “It was not a joke. It was a deception. In case you haven’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you are part of it […] “, Tweeted an economic journalist from the newspaper USA Today Nathan Bomey.
This announcement allowed Volkswagen, the first capitalization of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, to gain 4.70% to 240.55 euros on Tuesday, before a decline of 0.81% on Wednesday.
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