Volkswagen’s new slogan is a lesson in humility

Ditching “Das Auto”.
Ditching “Das Auto”.
Image: Flickr/Achim Hepp
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Volkswagen would surely love a fresh start in 2016 after this year was defined by a massive emissions-cheating scandal. And one way it’s hoping to wipe the slate clean is with a new advertising slogan—kind of.

The German company is shedding its tagline “Das Auto”—meaning “The Car”—for an even simpler one (if that’s possible): “Volkswagen.”

The old slogan, which has accompanied the Volkswagen logo on global ads since 2007, is being shelved in favor of the automaker’s own name to highlight the company’s “newfound humility,” Reuters reported.

The brand refresh may seem like an afterthought, or a rushed attempt by the automaker to make a new name for itself before the new year. But a manager who took part in a recent closed door meeting where the slogan was discussed said it was a necessary move.

“Das Auto,” the unnamed manager told Reuters, was pretentious—it suggested that Volkswagen alone defined the modern car. With recalls looming and costs mounting due to the defeat device that affected 11 million vehicles around the world, the slogan made less and less sense.

The new tagline then, to be rolled out in stages around the world, seems like an attempt to step back, take a beat, and redefine the Volkswagen name—stripping away those negative connotations.

Ditching “Das Auto,” which was introduced during former CEO Martin Winterkorn’s era, also signals a new direction for the company under chief executive Matthias Mueller.

A Volkswagen spokesperson told Reuters that the “Das Auto” slogan will not be featured in the automaker’s upcoming advertising campaign, but it is not completely scrapped.

The company did not immediately respond to Quartz’s request for comment.

Image by Achim Hepp on Flickr, licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.