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Volkswagen forced to U-turn on ‘Voltswagen’ April Fool’s rebrand after duping media

Volkswagen has been forced to reverse an ill-timed April Fool

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the most talked about creative and stunts that should be on your radar. Today, we explore how Volkswagen’s ‘rebrand’ to ‘Voltswagen’ isn’t quite all it seems.

German carmaker Volkswagen has been forced to deny reports that it intends to change its name to ’Voltswagen’ after an April Fool's gag proved to be a little too believable.

The seasonal prank saw a draft press release leaked to the US media, informing them that it was changing its name to ’Voltswagen of America’. The suspicious timing of the announcement naturally led recipients to question the authenticity of the release but Volkswagen itself compounded the confusion by issuing an unequivocal statement that the rebrand was genuine and a ’public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility’.

Reporters were left scratching their heads after Volkswagen briefly posted the unfinished release on its US newsroom on Monday, with an unidentified ’Volkswagen spokesman in Wolfsburg’ apparently fibbing to journalists to keep the charade going.

Fleshing out the fictitious story further, the name change was supposedly due to take place in May to highlight the launch of an all-electric SUV and would affect the exterior marque on all EV models, with gas guzzlers retaining the VW emblem.

This misinformation was spread further by social media accounts and underlined by a statement attributed to Scott Keogh, president and CEO of ’Voltswagen of America’, who said: “This name change signifies a nod to our past as the peoples’ car and our firm belief that our future is in being the peoples’ electric car.“

The apparent seal of approval from the car marque itself convinced media outlets such as Bloomberg, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal to carry the story, only to be left red-faced when a company spokesperson later confirmed that the entire episode was nothing more than a premature April Fool, although it is doubtful if the pranked news sites saw the funny side.

Drawing a line under the affair, Mike Tolbert, VW’s US spokesman, stated: “The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, highlighting the launch of the all-electric ID4 SUV.“

Miffed media outlets were not impressed by the stunt, with CNN reminding readers that: “Volkswagen is the same company that perpetrated a massive fraud – the SEC's words – and lied to regulators about its diesel emissions in a scandal that began in 2015.“

Away from the brouhaha, it remains to be seen whether the car-buying public will trust that Volkswagen has changed its spots.

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