Sunday night’s Primetime Emmy Awards were the venue for Audi’s touting of its latest and greatest innovations when it comes to lowering emissions – but the marketing message might be the year’s biggest flop as a major scandal surrounds the brand and its parent VW AG.
Kermit the Frog delivered a punchline that could be easily misinterpreted now: “It’s not that easy being green.” That’s because just hours ahead of the airing VW AG chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was apologizing for breaching the trust of worldwide consumers as the company admitted it had mislead authorities about the emissions of almost half a million diesel-powered vehicles. The Audi mishap can also be tied to another – now – inopportune US slogan “Truth in Engineering, ” also featured during the Sunday US football games. “Volkswagen is an extreme example of a brand believing itself to be bulletproof, ” comments Jo Arden, head of strategy at advertising agency 23red in London. In the video, comedian Joel McHale ends the ad by climbing into an A3 plug-in hybrid – the model’s diesel variant was among the cars the US Environmental Protection Agency claimed to have used the “defeat device”.
Audi, the luxury brand that delivers a large chunk of the parent’s overall profit has had to cease the sale of diesel versions of the A3, alongside Volkswagen that has stopped deliveries of the Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Passat. The experts and analysts now say the scandal goes a long way into showing how an organization can stray far away from its marketing brand message and PR, with consumers ready to tax brands that say one thing and do another.