Martin Winterkorn, the CEO of Volkswagen, resigned on Wednesday, in the wake of the widening scandal over faked emissions testing. The company admitted to installing software designed to evade air pollution standards in nearly half a million cars in the U.S. (and potentially 11 million cars worldwide).
One of Volkswagen's brands is Audi, which aired an unfortunately-timed advertisement during the Emmy Awards featuring the tagline, "Truth in Engineering."
Audi's "Truth in Engineering" ad campaign has been running since 2007, just a bit longer than the faked emissions testing. The tagline only makes the story more painful -- it twists the knife deeper into the company's already wounded customers. (Full disclosure: I drive an Audi diesel, but not one affected by the recall).
And while it might become the most unfortunate brand promise of all time, none of us are immune to the same problem.
What can we all learn from this?
The VW fiasco is a cautionary tale about big promises...and how they can come back to bite. To fail is one thing. But to be deceptive is quite another -- hypocrisy brings swift and severe retribution.