Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So long Chevy, Hello Chevrolet

Richard S. Chang of The New York Times reports:

On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II.

And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.

“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward,” said the memo, which was signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, the G.M. division’s vice president for marketing.


  1. Hmmm...more Ed-Whittaker-and-the-New-Board Marketing. Clearly they were paying attention during the New Coke and Ford Five Hundred successes. This should be just as brilliant a move.

  2. Chevrolet sounds more French and sophisticated than Chevy. Is that the reasoning?

  3. And my favorite part of the article:

    "A postscript to the memo says a sort of cuss jar — a plastic “Chevy” can — has been situated in the hallway. “Every time someone uses ‘Chevy’ rather than Chevrolet,” the note said, the employee is expected to put a quarter in the can."

    Ahh, you have to love corporate culture.

  4. Just a reminder of why the ended up bankrupt last time, and the unlikelihood that these same fine employees will produce a different result next time.

  5. "Straining at gnats...swallowing camels."

    "Chevy, Chevy, Chevy!" So, arrest me! =^O

  6. I wonder what they get to buy with the earning from the "Chevy" jar? Maybe a pension?

  7. So no more "Buicky" either, I suppose.

  8. They may be putting the nix on this silliness shortly. My olds, my chevy, my caddie my goodness...Anyone got a quarter?

  9. It's always been "chevy silverado". Or My "chevy cobalt"... Oh how about.. It's over by "chevy in the hole". Yeah, Chevrolet is the full name. But my name is Robert and i go by Rob, Bob and Robbie Pretty consistantly.

  10. 1. Ed Whittaker takes command, fires everyone who might make him look bad by actually knowing stuff, starts to look for ways to put his mark on things.
    2. Having been chauffered for the past couple of decades and not having bought a car in even longer, Whittaker asks Bob Lutz to explain auto marketing to him, but Lutz in simple mode is still about two orders of magnitude too complicated. So, Lutz is encouraged to retire.
    3. Whittaker notices that some of his people refer to "Chevy", a slang-y brand term that isn't official. Ah, that's obviously undisciplined thinking from those "car guys".
    3. He communicates his desire to the second tier. The memo goes out. The quarter jar goes into the marketing hallway.
    4. America uniformly says, "Heh. Those idiots obviously couldn't market their way out of a wet paper bag, discarding fifty years of brand familiarity like that."
    5. Wall Street instantly picks up on the shift in the zeitgeist caused by millions of shaking heads and rolling eyes. Someone clues in Whittaker that folks are laughing at GM, and not in a good way.
    6. The memo is recalled on the basis that it was "misunderstood". Whittaker chews out whoever actually sent it out.

  11. Thank goodness they got this figured out! I have been debating on what car to buy next and now I know I want a CHEVROLET becasue it must be a much better engineered and built car than just a plain old CHEVY. This must have taken many many months of focus groups and marketing panels to figure this one out!

  12. When I first seen that on the news, I told my wife...Have they lost their mind? I wonder if Volkswagen has similar thoughts along that line? I'll just continue calling mine "the old Chevy". This is from Associated press: By JEFF KAROUB,– Thu Jun 10, 1:55 pm ET

    DETROIT – Turns out you can take your "Chevy to the levee" or any other darn place you please.

    General Motors Co. on Thursday backed off a "poorly worded" internal memo that asked employees to refer to the brand only as "Chevrolet" in an effort to create consistency.

    GM says in a statement that it "in no way" is discouraging anybody from using the name Chevy. The internal memo was part of an effort to develop a consistent brand name as it tries to broaden its global presence.

    There have been many pop culture references to Chevys. Perhaps the best known is in Don McLean's "American Pie." Its signature sing-along chorus begins, "Bye bye, Miss American pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry."

  13. more mentioning of "chevy" in any songs...what the heck rhymes "chevrolet" ???

  14. GM Leaders bemoan from up high
    Those nicknames they seem to decry
    Don't be declasse'
    Please say "Chevrolet"
    Haven't they bigger fishies to fry?

  15. Anonymous asked above... more mentioning of "chevy" in any songs...what the heck rhymes "chevrolet" ??? Thats an easy one for older Flintoids. For years Dinah Shore had sung on TV and radio "See the U. S. A in your Chevrolet (pronouced as Chev-row-lay).

  16. I know what rhymes with Chevrolet. Oh wait.. I don't.. But i can rhyme Chevy with lots of stuff.. Chevy is easier to spell as well..

  17. ...drove my chev-ro-let to the lev-ro-let
    works for me !
    everyone knows the only reason BMW has been successful because they banned the use of the term "Beemer" 80)

  18. A hypothetical question that I've been thinking about:

    If you were an auto marketer, would you want your potential customers to think of your brand emotionally, even affectionately? Would you want them to think of the prior model they had when they were young, and the associated experiences and happy memories? Is it a good thing to have your product thought of as interwoven with the national culture?

    Or, would you rather sell interchangeable, characterless transportation appliances?

  19. JW...I have fond memories of my little 62 Chevy 11 super sport conv. It was good on miles, but was hard on the tires. Unitized body - no frame was a problem with alignment. If I were in the marketing situation, I would want the buying public's affection for my product and it's reliability. Kind of like, say, the Beetle. I might have been a little tough on the rubber myself though, I have to admit.


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