Three years ago today, Volkswagen (VW) faced a public relations crisis, as the company was accused of producing fraudulent results on their emissions tests for their diesel vehicles. The crisis was exacerbated by “growing International uncertainty and problems in weakening markets” as well as “sluggish marketing growth.” As scholars Baxter & Babbie touted nearly ten years prior though, “ideally, practitioners’ trust in research results is appropriate to the level of accuracy, precision, reliability, and validity of a research method and the results it produces,” and such negligence, regardless of economic standing, could have been prevented.
The crux of the matter can be summed up into the opening lines of the video, “It’s tough at the top, especially when you don’t know what’s going on down below.” (The New York Times) While Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen’s passenger car brand, apologized at the Tokyo Motor Show later that year, it’s safe to say that such sentiments may have been too little too late. Here, we can see that re-building and maintaining, while a primary focus, must take into account a focus of legitimacy to maintain brand recognition.
One thing we’ve been emphasizing with our clients is to leverage transparency. As technology grows, the gap between consumer and business gets smaller and smaller. Long gone are the days of expensive over-the-top advertising campaigns. Consumers and clients want you, plain and simple. No frills necessary. They want to know they can depend on you, trust you to find the best solutions to their needs.
So how do you plan to add more transparency in your marketing? Do you think VW was able to rebuild its reputation after all this time? Are VW beetles making a comeback? Let’s discuss :)
As a Marketing & Communications Specialist, Matt’s garnered over half a decade of experience in writing, editing and content management, in both the private and public sectors.