Every year, companies brace themselves for China's March 15 "Consumer Rights Day" show, when powerful state broadcaster CCTV takes on multinationals and their treatment of Chinese consumers. Even some of the biggest brands have been targeted, from Apple to McDonald's to Volkswagen.
When CCTV reported in March 2013 that Volkswagen was selling cars with faulty gearboxes, Catherine Peng, VP of PR & Communications at Volkswagen Group China, had been on the job only two months.
It was a massive crisis for Volkswagen in the world's biggest car market, and for Ms. Peng, it marked the start of two straight months of 15-hour workdays as she huddled with a task force attacking the problem from all angles.
Volkswagen's reaction to the crisis is a useful study because of the automaker's success in China in a year that could have been disastrous. The German automaker, whose brands include Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda, sold 16.2% more cars in China in 2013 than the previous year, beating out previous market leader General Motors Co. In the first half of 2014, it delivered 17.5% more cars than the year-earlier period.