Car companies often run joke ads on April 1st. It’s all in good fun. Who wouldn’t want a detachable Jeep Grille on their Rubicon that they could unlatch, put over a fire and BBQ steaks on. Except for all the bugs, the idea almost sounds real. That’s what makes it such a smart gag.
On Monday, Volkswagen announced it was rebranding itself as Voltswagen to reflect the company’s commitment to electric vehicles. But the prank isn’t actually goofy or funny. It sounded so real, media outlets reported it as news. Investors were drawn to VW’s new electric motoring direction (like Tesla!) and the stock price spiked by 5% by Tuesday morning trading. But on Wednesday afternoon, VW confessed the whole story was fake…an early April Fool’s Day prank. People were not amused.
You almost have to feel bad for VW. Instead of people giggling at the funny, phony name change prank, the public’s reaction was excitement that Volkswagen, whose name is still dirty from the Dieselgate scandal, actually cares about the environment! Then to have confess that it was all a joke…oops.