VW Tries to Get Us to Forget Emissions Scandal in New DDB Campaign

By Erik Oster 

DDB launched a new campaign for Volkswagen in the U.K. which takes a nostalgic look back at its history in hopes that viewers forget about the company’s recent emissions-scamming scandal.

“Then. Now. Always.”opens on a young man in the back of the classic Beetle, with a young boy chewing on the ear of a stuffed rabbit. Then a slightly later Volkswagen model passes by, with a boy in the backseat of that car (who appears to be the same boy aged several years) holding up his own stuffed rabbit. As he stares at the car’s reflection it morphs into yet another model. The pattern continues throughout the spot, with the boy from the beginning of the ad finally driving a modern Volkswagen with his son mirroring the original backseat stuffed rabbit scene.

The spot, launching the brand’s first post-scandal campaign in the U.K., arrives as Volkswagen delays the publication of its annual results, amidst uncertainty over just how much the scandal has cost the brand. Its nostalgia is meant to remind viewers of more innocent times for the brand, distracting them from the company’s recent unethical behavior. While this may succeed with longtime fans of the brands, other viewers may be left to wonder if Volkswagen was hiding anything else over the years. Cute as the approach may be, it’s going to take more than nostalgia for the Volkswagen, recently named one of the world’s “most hated” brands by tracking agency Sigwatch, to regain consumer trust, a tall order that may be beyond the reach of advertising (at least for now).