There's a version of this blog written Tuesday in which I expresss skepticism about whether automaker Volkswagen AG really would change its brand to Voltswagen.
I'd first seen reports on the name change, citing "leaked" details, a day earlier, but didn't write anything until VW issued a news release. The release, on its media website certainly sounded real. But the closeness to April 1, and the whole idea of a branding change made me suspicious.
In that earlier version of the blog, I compared the news to that of Crystal Pepsi and New Coke in the 1980s.
If I may be permitted to quote my own writing from a blog that never was published: "But really? Does Voltswagen sound like anything more than a marketing gimmick?"
Of course by late in the day on Tuesday, Voltswagen did, indeed, turn out to be either some marketing ploy or mistimed April Fools' joke. (Even the earlier news release has been taken down since then.)
But the whole issue raises the question of trust in business. VW may have been intending it as a joke, but as Reuters' reporter David Shepardson noted on NPR's Morning Edition today, it actually reminded people of VW's deception about the emissions from its diesel engines. That business decision landed executives in prison.
In business, both individuals and corporations have to be reliable. A resin supplier promising certain attributes in its material had better not be lying, as the former CEO and chief operating officer of Lucent Polymers, sentenced to prison for fraud, have learned.
That's not to say that the Voltswagen prank cost anything beyond the pride of news organizations who ran stories quoting VW's news release. But it should provide a reminder on being skeptical about claims that seem too good — or too strange — to be true.