Volkswagen's ruse early last week, that it intended to adopt the name "Voltswagen" in the U.S. for its coming fleet of electric vehicles, was an elaborate plot spawned at its marketing agency and approved by top executives.
While marketing experts and dealers admit that the phony pronouncement and subsequent fallout did generate buzz about VW's new EV — the ID4 — it also contradicted years of effort to restore the company's tattered public credibility following the diesel emissions crisis.
Developed weeks ago by VW's lead marketing agency, Johannes Leonardo, the plot involved the automaker posting a fake, unfinished press release about the pending name change, erroneously dated April 29, 2021, to a portion of its media site for about an hour on Monday, March 29.
To make sure it was seen, emails with a link to the "unfinished" release were sent from an anonymous Gmail account to several high-profile journalists, including Ad Age News Editor E.J. Schultz.