VW scandal leads to ad space windfall for some

By Alison Lowe | 27 October 2015
Credit: VW website

Advertisers have won a windfall in the wake of carmaker Volkswagen's emissions scandal, picking up ad inventory belatedly dropped by the beleaguered company at a fraction of its full cost.

VW was forced to pull ads which touted claims about its cars' low-levels of emissions after proof emerged that special software had been fitted to as many as 11 million diesel VW vehicles with the goal of tricking emissions testers into judging the level of toxins they released to be lower than they in fact are. In reality, pollutants released were 35 times the legal limit.

UK-based Campaign Live reports that one British advertiser has picked up £1 million worth of ad space at up to an 80% discount due to VW's last minute pull back.

However, the site also reports that some media owners were open to honouring some of the ad spend by VW, offering them space at a later date instead, in light of VW's reputation as a big advertiser.

Public relations manager for Volkswagen Group Australia, Kurt McGuinness, told AdNews that there has been "no change" to VW's planned ad spend in Australia as a result of the emissions fiasco. However, it remains unclear if VW had cancelled any pre-booked advertising, creating an opportunity for others to swoop in on the space.

Advertisers are not the only ones to have found a possibly silver lining for themselves in the cloud surrounding the German auto company. In mid-October AdNews revealed that Animal rights group PETA plans to bounce off the furore over the VW emissions scandal in its own outdoor ad campaign highlighting the impact of eating meat on the environment. PETA intends to put up billboards depicting the VW logo made out of animal flesh with the tagline “How about an even bigger emissions scandal? Eating meat destroys the climate.”

In late September the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) opened an investigation into whether consumers might have been “exposed to misleading claims” made by VW in their marketing materials.
That investigation and its threaten to further cost the brand, which has already suffered an AU$14.2 billion hit to its brand value after the emergence of the emissions scandal, as AdNews reported last month.

In Feburary of this year AdNews reported that DDB had retained the VW creative account following a competitive pitch whiile also picking up VW commercial vehicles and the Skoda brand. The company was understood to have beaten out Host and Droga5 in the running.

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