Girardi | Keese

Untruth in Advertising: FTC Sues VW

"For years Volkswagen's ads touted the company's 'Clean Diesel' cars even though it now appears Volkswagen rigged the cars with devices designed to defeat emissions tests."

- FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez

In a press release late last month, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was suing automaker Volkswagen for deceptive ads run in 2008-2015, a seven-year period during which VW sold roughly half a million "clean diesel" VW and Audi models to unwitting consumers.

VW's infamous emissions scandal - in which the automaker rigged its cars to cheat emissions tests - revealed that the apparently "clean diesel" vehicles were anything but. If you've been driving a "clean diesel" VW or Audi, read about joining our class action against the automaker.  

Is this truth in engineering?

VW has long been a whale of a client for advertising agencies going back to the Mad Men era. With a reported budget of only $800K in 1960, VW today is apparently a $70M account, and those involved in creating the VW campaigns of the 50s and 60s are credited with producing some of the most successful campaigns in advertising.

Wikipedia even features an entry on "VW advertising," detailing the history of the automaker and those who have helped promote its brand.

How the mighty have fallen.

"Volkswagen is an extreme example of a brand believing itself to be bulletproof."

- Jo Arden, ad agency strategist, quoted in this Bloomberg article

According to Wikipedia, the ad campaign creators in the 1950s were "impressed with the 'honesty' of the car," referring to the iconic Beetle, as shown in the ad below.

We'll leave you with a clip of a recent 'Clean Diesel' spot - the exact kind of ad that caught the FTC's attention:

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