VW, I’m sorry. I love you, but I’ve just about had it with you. First, it was the emissions scandal last September, which has left owners waiting, dealers and employees worried and the EPA all fired up ever since. Then in March, you woke up the U.S. Dept. of Justice over allegations of bank fraud. And now it’s April, a month that typically brings rain showers and a trickle of car buyers. Instead, it’s brought on a deluge of deceptive advertising charges from the FTC – charges that could amount to one of the worst false advertising cases in U.S. history. Great. Just great.
I mean, come on. Those are serious charges attached to a whole lotta very scary acronyms. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find scarier ones on this entire planet. Well, okay, I can think of a couple. And I shudder to think what would happen if you pissed them off.
Stop talking dirty to me
And so, VW, that brings me to the question legions of brand loyalists worldwide are asking: WTF is going on over there in Wolfsburg, Germany? Or should I say Auburn Hills, Michigan? Either way, you’ve committed far worse than alleged crimes here – crimes that, for the record, could set you back close to $40 billion in damages and fees. That’s more than three times the cost of the GM bailout.
And that doesn’t even begin to account for the damage to your brand. Generations of Americans, myself included, have loved the VW brand for decades. The same goes for your diehard drivers in Europe. We’ve loved your advertising, too – and your cheeky “Old Wives’ Tales About Diesel” campaign was no exception.
True confession time (again)
Okay, now I have to come clean. Back in the heydays (2000-2005), I worked on Volkswagen advertising. I was on the team that launched “Drivers wanted. No, I didn’t make the TV commercials. But I made enough of everything else to become convinced this brand was really special. The cars had style and personality. They were “German-engineered” and fun to drive. They were packed with premium standard features. And they scored consistently high on value.
I’m not sure whether my working on the VW account makes this harder for me to take, but it certainly doesn’t help. And looking back, I have to wonder: Was there anything shady going on? Was I perpetrating lies without knowing it? There’s only one higher power that can answer that question. And it ain’t the EPA.
What’s your feeling about all of this? Any personal stories about Volkswagen diesels that you’d like to share? Do tell. Leadfoot can totally empathize.