It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, a brand you really love will break your heart.
VW and Loblaws are brands beloved by consumers for decades of quality products and services. Also beloved by marketers for decades of great marketing strategy and advertising campaigns. So beloved that we feel the need to refresh your memory of how they broke our collective hearts.
Volkswagen Emission Scandal Refresher
in September, 2015, VW Group (VW) admitted it had installed software in its diesel-powered vehicles that acted to defeat emission standards . This was after the US EPA began investigating a May, 2014, study that first reported much higher emissions from VW models tested outside the laboratory—meaning on real roads. After 16 months of diversion and stalling , VW’s admission of guilt came four days after the EPA issued a notice of violation—which would have meant a halt to all new vehicle sales in America.
Worldwide, 10 million vehicles from five model years were affected. So far, VW has paid $35bn USD in reparations , which have been a combination of repair, vehicle buy-back and compensation to owners for reduced resale value. More is to come because agreements have not been made with government authorities in all affected countries, nor have all consumer-based class-action law suits been settled or dismissed. VW pleaded guilty to criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions. At least 20 senior VW executives have resigned, been fired or faced financial penalties and/or legal proceedings to date.
George Weston/Loblaws Bread Price Fixing Scandal Refresher
Employees of Loblaws and George Weston Ltd (Weston) first informed Canada’s Competition Bureau of packaged bread price fixing activities by their companies (and presumably others) in 2015 . In late October, 2017, the Bureau executed search warrants at Weston and Canada Bread  offices. This was when the latter two companies first learned of the accusations. In November, 2017, Weston agreed to co-operate with investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The next month, it launched a $25 off coupon offer to all customers (all Canadians) as part of a public mea culpa, for a total cost to Weston of $111M . ‘Co-operation with investigators’ meant naming retail and wholesale competitors as co-conspirators—accusations which the latter have denied.
By some estimates, price fixing resulted in Canadians paying at least $1.50 more for a loaf of bread  from the ‘participating retailers’ over a 14-to-16-year period, for a total of $5bn . To date, no charges have been made and no fines have been levied. The Bureau’s investigation is still on-going but Weston companies are not part of it. Multiple class-action law suits have been filed against accused parties, including Weston companies.