NEW YORK (AP) – Journalists are accustomed to wary of weird pranks that deceive April Fools this time of year. Few expect this from a multibillion-dollar corporation.
Volkswagen admitted on Tuesday that it had spread false rumors, saying that it had changed the name of its American subsidiary, Voltswagen of America, in an attempt to have fun and offer a new electric utility car.
A number of news outlets, including The Associated Press, USA Today, CNBC, and The Washington Post, reported the original press release as factual news, with some convinced that it was no joke.
The scam even briefly boosted the company’s stock price, writes The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to uncover the scam by reaching the headquarters of an official German company.
“The Associated Press has repeatedly assured Volkswagen that its US subsidiary is planning a name change, and that the information we now know is false,” said company spokeswoman Laurent Easton. “We corrected our story and published a new one based on the company’s acceptance. “Any deliberate publication of this false information harms accurate journalism and the good of society.”
The story came to light on Monday after the news release was briefly posted on a company website and then disappeared, but not before gaining some attention. CNBC, which declined to comment on the scam, is believed to be the first major news outlet to report it as legitimate news.
The Associated Press wrote on Monday after Mark Gillis, the company’s spokesman in the United States, told his correspondent that it was serious, Easton said.
A similar story was told by USA Today, where the journalist specifically asked if it was a joke, and he was told “no,” said Chris Terrell, the newspaper’s spokesman.
“The company used this false statement as a way to manipulate respected media journalists to attract attention for their marketing campaign,” he said. “We are disappointed that the company will choose this type of indecent marketing.”
Today’s US journalist, who was originally lied to, was more rude.
“This was not a joke,” journalist Nathan Bomei wrote on Twitter. “It was a hoax. If you have not noticed, we have a problem with misinformation in this country. Now you are part of it. Why would anyone trust you again? ”
Earlier on Tuesday, the company doubled its history by re-launching a news release quoted by Volkswagen CEO and CEO Scott Keog. It even changed its Twitter page, saying, “We know 66 is an unusual age to change your name, but we have always been young at heart.”
There is a precedent for a company that tries to joke about “fake news”. In 2018, the IHOP food chain briefly tried to persuade consumers to change their name from “P” to “B” by selling cookies for burgers.
Ill ili was cleared on Tuesday after submitting false information the day before. The Journal quoted the words of the company’s spokesman in Germany. “We did not want to mislead anyone. It’s all just a marketing ploy to get people talking about their new car model.
The AP and other fake news outlets later wrote about the scam. “About that plan to change the name of American Volkswagen.” wrote Mike Snider of USA Today. “Do not worry”:
“Maybe we should consider whether () the ad campaign was more ridiculous in the original German.” said Le Ullana Glover, a corporate consultant and founder of Ridgely Walsh.
Glover says the company has raised millions of dollars from the press release as advertising.
“I’m sure VW regrets this move for now, but a good marketing team will find a way to make a profit,” he said.
Sean Hayat, a professor of management at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, says humorous campaigns do not have to be problematic if they are presented in language, not as a hoax for journalists.
“I do not think it will hurt them,” said Heath. “I just do not think it gave them all the potential they wanted.”
The report was co-authored by Andrew Dalton, writer for AP Entertainment Los Angeles.