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Voltswagen April Fool’s joke backfires

In case you’re wondering – no, that’s not a typo. Depending on your industry background and how up to speed you are on the best new van deals, you may or may not be familiar with the recent Voltswagen story; a stunt by Volkswagen which got the industry talking for all the wrong reasons.

Now, Volkswagen is one of the biggest automotive manufacturers on the face of the planet, and like any global manufacturer, that means its marketing campaigns are conducted on a global scale. That means when they go right, they bring big rewards for the company. The flipside is that when they go wrong, they go wrong in a very big way.

Such was the case with Voltswagen. In a nutshell, for a few days the moniker was touted as the new name for Volkswagen’s range of electric vehicles in the US. The manufacturer has long been focused on bringing its EVs to a wider audience, so when it announced the name change at the end of last month, it seemed like a particularly bold move, and one that would apparently evolve Volkswagen’s long-established heritage as ‘the people’s car’.

As you’ve surmised already though, it wasn’t quite that simple. Basically Volkswagen backtracked on the name change, which turned out to be an April Fool’s joke gone awry. By then, a whole load of publications, including high profile organisations like the BBC and Autocar, had reported it as fact, which to be honest was a bit of a clanger. So how did it all go pear shaped?

An unpleasant shock

It’s not unusual for organisations to make big jokes at this time of year, whatever their size or industry. Everyone expects it to a certain degree – especially professional journalists, whose whole job depends on sorting fact from fiction. That’s why, contrary to what some people seem to think, automotive journalists were indeed a tad suspicious of Volkswagen’s announcement. So why wouldn’t they just write it off for what it was – a joke announcement?

Well, they actually had a number of solid reasons to believe it was genuine. To start off with, the announcement itself was made not on the 1st of April, as you might expect, but on the 29th of March. That doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be a joke, of course, but if it is then it’s certainly very odd timing for a joke announcement, so it muddied the waters right off the bat.

Some reasoned it could be a leak, but the initial press release was immediately followed up by an official statement, and blue-chip companies don’t tend to make those sorts of one-two PR rollouts accidentally.

So the journalists did what you or I would do in the face of such confusion – they called up Volkswagen’s US PR team directly to find out what the deal was. To their surprise, they were explicitly told that the move was genuine. It wasn’t an off-the-cuff answer, either – they were provided with prepared quotes from senior figures at Volkswagen’s US headquarters.

In the days that followed, everyone went off to publish their stories, which made it a little awkward on 1st of April, when Volkswagen were forced to reveal it had indeed intended the announcement to have been taken in jest. Nobody’s quite sure how it happened – it’s possible that the initial announcement may have been sent prematurely, and the US PR team subsequently decided to keep the joke going until the big day. To be honest, it’s likely we’ll never find out the details!

However, there’s one upside to the entire thing – it certainly did get Volkswagen publicity for their range of electric vehicles, even if it sparked some less desirable discussions alongside it! When it comes to marketing palavers, it’s the little victories that count.

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Electric vans are still making a buzz

Of course, while it’s fun to speculate on the Voltswagen story, you can rest assured that it has very little impact on Volkswagen’s European operations closer to home. That means when you choose Van Discount for cheap van deals, you can still count on us to offer reliable vehicles at the very best prices, whether they’re manufactured by Volkswagen or fellow global manufacturers like Ford, Peugeot, or Renault – just to name a few!

Drawing on our decades of expertise and network of personal contacts here at Van Discount, we actually save our customers an average of 40% off the recommended retail price of a new van – often translating to thousands of pounds. So whether you’re looking at the best electric vans, or you’d prefer a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle to suit your needs, rest assured that we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for here at Van Discount. Give us a call on 01282 872 530, or take a look around our site, and see what you can find?