'Das Auto' no more: Volkswagen plans image offensive
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN (Reuters) - Scarred by a public relations thrashing over its "Dieselgate" scandal, Volkswagen is planning an image offensive, and its "Das Auto" global advertising slogan is an early casualty.
Launched in 2007 under ousted boss Martin Winterkorn, the slogan has had the advantage of simplicity, merely meaning "The Car". However, the German carmaker's leaders, anxious to proclaim a reformed corporate culture, have criticized it as out of step with a company trying to show new-found humility.
A Volkswagen spokesman would not pronounce "Das Auto" dead quite yet, but said it would no longer accompany the famous VW badge in the coming advertising campaign.
Its replacement is hardly radical.
"Wherever our logo appears in future, it will be backed by the new brand slogan 'Volkswagen'," the spokesman said. "The slogan will be rolled out in stages across the world."
VW has been largely on the defensive since U.S. authorities revealed in September it had admitted rigging exhaust emission tests on some diesel-powered models. For weeks, it volunteered little information about the extent of the cheating, instead reacting guardedly to a flood of revelations and allegations.
The new campaign, discussed last week at a closed-door meeting of 2,000 group managers, is VW's latest attempt to regain the initiative in rebuilding its reputation following a sharp drop in sales in some markets, including the United States and Britain.
While the group produces everything from Bugatti supercars and Ducati motorbikes to heavy-duty Scania trucks, the meeting in the eastern German city of Dresden focused on the main VW brand. Continued...