Volkswagen Hoodwinks Reporters: “An Attempt to be Funny and Promote a New Electric Vehicle”

From an AP story by David Bauder headlined “Volkswagen purposely hoodwinks reporters”:

Journalists are used to being wary about odd pranksters pulling April Fool’s Day hoaxes….Few expect it from a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Volkswagen admitted that it had put out a false news release saying that it had changed the name of its U.S. subsidiary to “Voltswagen of America” in an attempt to be funny and promote a new electric utility vehicle.

Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, USA Today, CNBC and The Washington Post, had reported the original press release as real news, some after being assured that it was no joke.

The deception even briefly lifted stock prices for the company, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first revealed the deception by reaching an official at the company headquarters in Germany….

The story emerged Monday after a news release was briefly posted on a company website and then disappeared, but not before catching some eyes. CNBC…is believed to be the first major news organization to report it as legitimate news….

At first on Tuesday, the company doubled down on its story by reissuing the news release, which quoted Scott Keogh, the president and CEO of Volkswagen of America. It even changed its Twitter page, announcing that “we know, 66 is an unusual age to change your name, but we’ve always been young at heart.”…

Shon Hiatt, a professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, said campaigns with humor aren’t necessarily problematic if presented in a tongue-in-cheek way and not as falsehoods to reporters.

“I don’t think it will hurt them,” Hiatt said. “I just don’t think it gave them the full potential boost they wanted.”

Speak Your Mind