VW campaign acknowledges damage done

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Volkswagen Canada says the campaign launched Dec. 1 aims to acknowledge how it damaged its image and relationship with customers.

Though the ultimate goal, explains VW Canada media rep Thomas Tetzlaff, is to start to restore faith in the brand that legions of customers lost after it admitted to rigging engines with emissions-cheating software.

“The campaign explains the impact of this situation on our proud legacy, values and trust in the Volkswagen brand,” Tetzlaff says.

“We take great pride in the base of support we have built in Canada and felt we owed it to our employees, dealers and customers to publicly acknowledge the damage done…”

Launched Dec. 1 with ads featured in over 100 newspapers nationwide, the ad is simple and direct.

“Remember when this stood for integrity and trust?” it reads beneath the company logo. “Recently, we made a big mistake: we broke your trust.”

There will be spots online with a similar look and tone. Both the online and newsprint campaign was scheduled to last for a few weeks. The message was to change after the first week.

The ad directs readers to a microsite that went live after the scandal broke. The site offers additional information about the emissions issues, which vehicles have been affected and what the short-term plan is from the brand in Canada.

As of press time, a fix for North American diesel engines had not yet been identified or announced.

Volkswagen Group head office in Germany says a fix has been identified for European engines with regards to European emissions regulations, but that fix is not applicable to North American vehicles.

The projected solution will be an “uncomplicated software update,” that will need to be approved by regulators in Canada and the U.S.

Of the 44 questions and answers listed on the site, the last one hinted at something called the “Owner Credit Package” for owners of affected 2.0L TDI vehicles. Details of the goodwill package were not known as of press time, but it is expected to be similar to what was offered U.S. customers.

Affected America drivers got a $1,000 package that included a pre-paid Visa card, $500 in dealership credits and free roadside assistance.

The U.S. office was also first to kick off a major marketing campaign in early November with ads running in major U.S. newspapers announcing “We’re working to make things right.”