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Good and Bad PR: Good for Ikea, bad for VW

Good PR

Ikea made an announcement this week which will see the brand take a more environmentally friendly approach to selling furniture.

The homeware retailer will be trialling a furniture-hire scheme, where customers will be able to rent items as opposed to owning them outright. The CEO Jesper Brodin said that he could see demand for a solution like this in big cities like London, where commuters and those living part-time there aren’t necessarily interested in building a second home and investing lots of money in kitting it out.

In Japan, Ikea will also be trying out a buy-back scheme, where the customer will be able to sell their sofas back to the retailer once they want to get rid, so that they don’t end up going to landfill and Ikea can recycling the furniture instead.

So many brands now are trying to do their bit when it comes to lessening their impact on the environment and this is just one example of that.

Ikea’s announcement has been picked up by the Telegraph and subsequently the Metro, with more media coverage sure to follow.

Bad PR

I read something this week surrounding one of the top car manufacturers which really unsettled me. Up until now, I’ve always liked Volkswagen cars; I wanted a Golf when I first started driving and I quite like the slick looking Scirocco (a bit of pointless insight into my car preferences for you there). 

However, I doubt I’ll ever give Volkswagen any of my hard-earned cash in the future now. If you’re wondering what’s made me feeling this way, then read on.

The car giant was found to be running a bit of a twisted experiment to see what effect diesel exhaust fumes would have on monkeys and humans. Animal testing isn’t something you’d normally associate with the motoring industry, with it more likely to come to light from the cosmetics or medical sectors.

The tests on monkeys were apparently run in a lab in Albuquerque (or Breaking Bad fame) back in 2014 and were commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (the EUGT for short), which is actually funded by VW, BMW and Daimler. Ten monkeys were shut inside an air-tight chamber and were exposed to fumes from several cars, one of which was a diesel model of a VW Beetle.

Reports have also said that the monkey tests were carried out with a vehicle that used the illegal “cheat” software that helped to give more preferable emissions readings and were at the centre of a scandal that came to light in 2015.

In a separate, month-long experiment, six women and a total of 19 men inhaled diesel fumes in a lab in West Germany at varying concentration levels, which contained nitrogen oxides (NOx – a toxic substance).

It’s all just a bit bonkers to be honest and certainly doesn’t do VW any favours. The manufacturer has attempted to distance itself from any “all forms of animal abuse” in a tweet, but the fact the EUGT is funded by VW doesn’t look good. I don’t think it’ll be as easy as shifting the blame onto the group.

VW has since said all the right things in terms of issuing apologies and such like, but it’s all too little, too late from a brand-reputation perspective. The story reached the far corners of global media and the head of external relations and sustainability Thomas Steg has stepped down from his role at his own request. Oh dear VW… oh deary me.

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter
Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

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