Volkswagen's April Fool's joke backfires disastrously

In the internet age, it can be hard for brands to keep anything secret. Take Apple, for example – by the time a new iPhone rolls around, the cat has usually very much left the bag, thanks to months of inevitable leaks. Now, a new rebrand for car manufacturer Volkswagen has accidentally been revealed early. But after a day of ridiculous confusion, it turns out the whole thing was a disastrous attempt at humour by the brand.

So, a press release on the company's website revealed an entirely new name for Volkswagen's US operations, designed to promote its shift towards electric vehicles. But with said release swiftly deleted, it seemed that someone at the automative brand was a little too eager to hit Publish.

Volkswagen car

One of Volkswaken's electric cars (Image credit: Volkswagen)

According to CNBC, in order to "emphasise the the German automaker’s electric vehicle efforts," the press release, dated April 29, revealed that Volkswagen will be changing its name in the US to Voltswagen. Geddit? Voltswagen. Volts. Voltage. Electricity. Electric cars.

The statement called the change a “public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility" and announced that the new Voltswagen name will be placed on all electric models (gas vehicles will still be known by the Volkswagen name).

Then, yesterday afternoon, the company officially confirmed the name change on Twitter (below). It seemed as though the leaked press release may have forced Volks... sorry, Voltswagen, to go ahead and reveal the news early.

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But, surprise! It was all a hilarious ruse. According to CNN, 'Voltswagen' was April Fool's joke. Which leaked early. And which the company then decided to run with anyway. "The renaming was designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool's Day," the company said. PSA to all brands everywhere: your April Fool's joke is unlikely to be interpreted as an April Fool's joke if you don't put it out on April Fool's Day. 

So, not only did Volkswagen massively mess up its April Fool's joke by leaking it early, but it decided to confuse literally everyone, including the press, by insisting it was true. Needless to say, the disastrously confusing 'stunt' isn't going down a storm online.

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Lying to the press isn't a great look for Volkswagen – you know, that company that was sued for misinformation related to its emissions back in 2019. Yep, we'll be filing this one straight under 'facepalm'. Thankfully, we've seen some genuinely great (and genuinely genuine) car rebrands in the last year, from BMW's slick new logo to Rolls-Royce's classy new look

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.