What are the signs of a guilty conscience? Volkswagen seems to be providing the perfect example. For the past year Greenpeace has been exposing how VW’s green marketing is just a smokescreen and urging it to green up its act. Although the company claims to be "the world's most eco-friendly carmaker," behind the scenes it has been trying to water down green EU car fuel efficiency legislation. Plus it is refusing to put its most fuel-efficient technology in its standard cars.
Why won't Volkswagen listen to us? Is it scared of doing the right thing?
Symptoms of a guilty conscience:
1. Agree to get help then refuse to accept it
VW tells us that their CEO Martin Winterkorn is the only person who can make a decision to change the company's actions in the way we would like. Conspicuously before every major car show, the company has repeatedly offered us a meeting with him - and then retracted the offer once we have launched a protest at each show.
When our campaigner Christophe cornered Martin Winterkorn at the Paris Car Show last Thursday, the company chief claimed he had spoken with us - and then walked away. We both know that's not true Martin - got something to hide?
2. Put others up to cover for you
Over the past year Volkswagen has organised 'fake protesters' to be present outside its events when we have turned up, claiming that the company is green. How do we know they are fake? After we showed up at the recent VW private party on the eve of the Paris Motor Show, one of them even told us that he didn't believe the carmaker could be green.
3. Attack those trying to help you
This summer Volkswagen advertised for someone to exclusively work on how to counteract our campaign. More than anything, we're flattered!
4. Get the law involved
After Greenpeace France produced a spoof VW brochure which explains the lies behind VW's marketing of the new Golf 7, the company filed an injunction to stop Greenpeace France from spoofing them in any way. They also wanted to add a clause that would have forced Greenpeace to ‘suspend any action that damaged the image of the company and any of their products’ and for each infringement we would have been charged 100,000 Euros! They were forced to drop their gagging order by the French judge.
Do these sound like desperate measures to you? Does this sound like an ethical company? We don't think so.