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Legal action against Board members/ex Board membersThere are multiple external investigations into VW’s actions leading up to the scandal. At any time in the next several years, one of these investigations could result in legal action being brought against a current member or previous member of the Executive Board. Our response to this would be to distance them as an individual from what the company does now. We want to be clear that they’re no longer part of Volkswagen and don’t represent their changed culture and core values. By taking these steps, we would help to distance from them and the past they represent. Legal action from business partnersVW has numerous deals and partnerships with businesses around the world, and many of them are probably disturbed by the current state of the company. For example, Deutsche See, a seafood producer in Germany, leases 500 vehicles a year from VW. They chose VW as their partner based on their environmental focus prior to the scandal. They’ve recently filed a lawsuit
44against VW since they were clearly mislead about VW’s priorities (Schwarts). Other companies around the globe could follow suit, especially if the Deutsche See lawsuit is successful. Again we would primarily seek to distance the reason behind the lawsuit from the current, newer Volkswagen. When the lawsuit is settled we would continue to focus on it as an opportunity to put the past events behind VW as it moves forward. Economic The second most likely category of potential issues that could arise is economic in nature. Volkswagen is not currently weak, but they are vulnerable, and economic effects could damage them in this potentially dangerous time for VW. We identified one major issue that could get stakeholders and competitors wondering if Volkswagen is in a weak state. Chinese market crashMarkets in China have massive impacts on many global corporations, but it is especially important for VW as described earlier under “China.” If the Chinese market dips in the next few years, it would have an impact on VW’s bottom line, but also their image among “in the know” audiences. Our approach to this event would be to reassure stakeholders by reminding them of several things: the strength of a brand that’s been building in China for 30 years, successes in other markets, and the resiliency the brand and company has shown through past economic downturns over the last 80 years.
45Rejected Solutions●Making automotive consumers (existing and potential) the primary audience. At first glance of this project, our suspicions were that the automotive consumers were going to be the key audience in the plan. We expected to find a public image crisis once we had conducted our initial research on the scandal. But after digging into the background and current situation, we realized that the problem lay with other audiences, and that the PR issues with VW’s customer base were minimal over the long term.