Greenpeace Paints VW as Villain in Emissions Misfire

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 11.02.47 AMGreenpeace, an international organization acting to promote peace and environmental protection, recently launched a social media campaign meant to attack Volkswagen on their response to the emissions scandal. The campaign highlights a smoke-breathing pumpkin emblazoned with the VW log and the words “Trick. No Treat.” written below.

Volkswagen was hesitant to respond to EPA claims of illegal software that allowed their cars to falsely pass emissions testing. Initially, the company denied allegations completely, however, since then Volkswagen has confirmed their cars contained software to cheat emissions testing. It is reported there are 11 million cars affected by the violation.

Greenpeace has not taken the situation lightly and they’ve taken to their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts to share their disdain. The campaign rolled out with the featured pumpkin and called for the public to support “a campaign demanding a mass-market electric car that families can afford,” PR Week senior reporter Anna Reynolds said.

Next in the line of fire, Greenpeace released a Star Wars-themed ad, also in the spirit of Halloween, depicting Volkswagen as the “dark side” and they again urged the public to “join the rebellion” against the purportedly dishonest organization.

Their campaigns have not ended with the conclusion of October’s spooky holiday, rather will continue to engage customers and critics alike to revolt against these cars that have done so much harm.

Do you believe that Volkswagen is deserving of the social media attack launched by Greenpeace? Do you believe Greenpeace’s campaign will effectively use its platforms to motivate disdain for Volkswagen across a mass market?

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2 Responses to Greenpeace Paints VW as Villain in Emissions Misfire

  1. Alexandra Long says:

    I believe that Greenpeace would find more success in generating animosity toward Volkswagen if they made the ads more consumer-centered. Right now, the ads are focused on pinning blame on VW for an environmental crime that won’t necessarily hit home and anger consumers. For the campaign to be successful, consumers of all kinds, not just VW buyers, need to be outraged at what happened. These consumers can’t just know that the car manufacturer could have potentially harmed the environment. That message only appeals to a segment of consumers. The message that Greenpeace should be sending is, “This company lied to you. You were tricked. You believed that you were driving a safe vehicle, but you were in fact driving a machine that has been harming the environment because some corporate executives thought they could pull one over on you.” (Obviously not word for word, but you get the gist). Consumers need to be angry at Volkswagen for this Greenpeace campaign to be successful. Messages need to appeal to that goal.

  2. Megan Brown says:

    Ms. Long,

    I find myself agreeing with many of your points as I hadn’t considered them as potential flaws in the Greenpeace campaign. When I initially saw the ad, I immediately drew the conclusion to adverse effects for the environment. I would assume this is because climate change is a topic near and dear to me. However, I agree that the Greenpeace ads may miss the mark among other consumers because people may not draw the connection from VW lying to climate change as easily. Going forward, it would be wise to weave the language you discussed into future attacks against VW.

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