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Musings of a Marketing Tornado

Content to spark conversation.

Heyo! Thrilled you’re joining me for this week’s newsletter which covers: VW’s disastrous April Fool’s marketing joke, a cat with more academic credibility (and a better wardrobe) than most humans, a cybercrime bust called “Chicken Drumstick”, and a nod to the awe of science. 

Now let’s have some fun around here!

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Marketing Minute

Every April Fool’s we can count on a corporate marketing team to embarass themselves with an obtuse stunt. This year proved no different. 


Fool me once

The crack squad in VW’s marketing team outdid themselves for April Fool’s when they posted a press release to their website on April 29th (you read that correctly) announcing their name change to “Voltswagen” to signify their shift to electric cars. Then they quickly deleted it.  

Fool me twice

Unsatisfied with this presumed accident, on April 30th, VW then released a media statement affirming the rebrand and their nod towards an electric future.

Later that day, they confessed to the stunt. 

Lemme guess what you’re thinking.


“But wait, didn’t VW just get their pants sued off for LYING about emissions?”


Why yes. Yes, they did


VW’s scandalous lie also resulted in the largest fine ever slapped on an auto manufacturer.


The gift of the gaffe

This ill-conceived April Fool’s campaign follows a marketing blunder from last year when VW landed in hot water for a racist ad that depicted a Black man being controlled and pushed by a white hand.

At the time, VW promised to address their marketing efforts, but didn’t switch agencies or make any executive changes.


Aaaaand look at them now!


Time for the Old Volk's home

Joking about the launch of a new car is one thing, but making light about the entire direction of your company is quite another. This boneheaded marketing campaign served only to undermine VW’s credibility and erode the consumer trust they’d earned back since the emissions scandal broke in 2015. 


For what, you ask? 


An April Fool’s joke that wasn’t even funny. Yeesh. 


That’s one way to get attention

Lying to the public—while making jest of a serious global issue know...the crime your company was found guilty of—would not be high on my list of marketing moves. 


Hey VW? Call me. You seriously need the help.

Tornado Watch 🌪️

Well I’ve definitely chosen the wrong career.


I've missed my chance to become a crime lord in the lucrative underground industry of creating and selling videogame cheat codes online. Damn.


Operation “Chicken Drumstick”

In collaboration with gaming company Tencent, Chinese police broke up the biggest videogame cheat code ring in the world. The gang charged a monthly subscription fee for cheat codes to games like Overwatch and Call of Duty Mobile.

They boasted buyers across hundreds of countries, had revenue topping $75M and assets worth $46M which included several supercars.

Catch me if you can

Cheating has become such a huge issue in the gaming community, as prizes are worth millions of dollars, and high profile gamers have even quit platforms citing cheating issues.

Considering ⅓ of gamers surveyed in 2019 admitted to cheating, we can expect more gaming companies will collaborate with police to target these criminal enterprises which are “ruining” the industry. 

Monkey see, monkey do

Gaming has drastically shifted culture, so it’s interesting to see it has gotten big enough to eat itself. I had no idea a nefarious underworld of game cheat codes existed until this article, but it makes complete sense. 

What will be interesting to watch is how the industry deals with these issues moving forward, since the gaming demographic has strong overlap with the excellent hacker demographic.

From hero to villain 

I’m intrigued to see how companies address and try to solve this conundrum because it’s going to be a tough issue to tackle when your customers are also your burglars. 


Fret not friends, I’ll be gleefully monitoring the situation and keeping you apprised. 

Enjoy With Enthusiasm

Some things in life that are too good not to share. 

Feline fine

This Smithsonian article about the history of felines—narrated and illustrated by Baba the cat—is one such treasure.

Baba's eyes convey a spectrum of deep emotion and her costumes are sublime:


Who’s Baba, you ask?


Great question. 

Baba is “a talented model in addition to a scholar, goes beyond surface-level scratches, pairing her freshly unearthed research with a series of stunning costume portraits to bring history to life” according to her author bio for A Cat’s Tale.

Her novel even won Barnes and Noble Best New Books of the Year.

Of course it did.


See what I mean?


If you ignore every word on the page, I implore you to look at the rest of the photos—they’re hysterical and you will thank me. Baba answers questions I didn’t even know I had.

Bonus: Some feline facts no one asked for:

  • Many cowboys travelled with their cats

  • Cats were a prized commodity on the American frontier

  • In Alaska, cats were actually worth their weight in gold

  • The US allocated about $1000 a year for postal cats in their budget after the Revolutionary War.

If Baba’s photoshoot didn’t bring joy and make you smile, best to unsubscribe.

Stray Observations

Scrub in

Science has become a polarizing topic to some during these strange modern times, but that makes me appreciate the power of this photo even more:

Damar Turner has been a violinist for over 40 years and considered playing music essential to the quality of her life.

During her operation last year, her brain surgeons asked her to play the violin* to ensure her skills weren’t damaged as they cut away chunks of tumour in her frontal lobe. That’s the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills, for those of us who can’t remember. 

A stunning reminder of just how far we’ve come and where we might go. 🥂

*Turner played Gustav Mahler, George Gershwin and Julio Iglesias 

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The vibe this week is "C" by JK Soul
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