VW Vs. Chipotle: Which Brand Is The Biggest Loser?

Brand crisis

VW Vs. Chipotle: Which Brand Is The Biggest Loser?

Which Brand Crisis Is Worse?

Two of the biggest corporate PR-brand crises of 2015 have roared into the New Year with no end in sight. Recently, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency sued VW over its illegal diesel emissions scandal. Days later, Chipotle was sued for misleading its investors about food safety procedures.

Both companies face uphill battles to rebuild consumer trust in their brands, built largely on “we do it better” reputations. But is one crisis worse than the other?

VW’s Cover-Up

When it was pointed out to VW in 2013 by various government authorities that road tests on its “clean diesel” cars showed wildly unacceptable results — as much as 40 times the pollutants allowed — the manufacturer began a year-long campaign to discredit the results. It was only when VW was presented with incontrovertible proof that it had installed software in its diesel-engine car computers to deliberately manipulate its pollutant emission — the proverbial smoking gun — did VW engineers admit to the fraud. This was no lone wolf act; it took a German village to carry out this malfeasance.

Regaining the public’s trust (not to mention that of VW dealers) will not be easy. Changes will have to be made that must be big, bold and sincere. Forget burnishing the brand. The entire culture of VW that gave permission to dupe customers will have to be reengineered, and the process will have to transparent.

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