By on June 10, 2010

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. When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding. Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.

From a GM memo, signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s vice president for marketing [via NY Times]. Chevrolet spokesfolks confirm the decision to abandon “Chevy,” saying the move comes from Chevrolet’s new ad agency of record, Goodby Silverstein. Chevrolet employees are reportedly already using a “Chevy Can,” similar to a “Cuss Can,” in which employees must deposit a quarter every time they say “Chevy” instead of “Chevrolet.” They’re serious about this thing.

Needless to say, this runs counter to most marketing trends which have tended towards shortened brand names like KFC and FedEx. Also, Chevy has been consistently used in Chevrolet marketing materials, and more importantly by artists and musicians, for decades. The idea that Chevy is somehow confusing to consumers, or weakens the brand because of inconsistency is difficult to understand. Isn’t the Chevy nickname fundamental to the brand’s approachable image? Besides, if consumers shorten the name out of sheer convenience, why pretend like the nickname doesn’t fit?

All in all, a tough decision to understand. And one with a distinct deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic vibe. Moving Chevrolet to Goodby was Joel Ewanick’s idea, and this is another of the early decisions he’s making in hopes of turning GM’s marketing around. Frankly, it seems like his first real clunker idea since joining GM.

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62 Comments on “Don’t Call It Chevy!...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I see there are plenty of idiots still left at GM. What a pity.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. OK. You know it’s not like they’ve been featuring Louis Chevrolet (the French race car driver who lent his name to the division) prominently in their ads or something.

    I saw this story on the “Car Lust” blog first and they made an interesting suggestion, perhaps this is some kind of reverse psychology “New Coke vs. Coke Classic” thing designed to produce a backlash and nostalgia for the brand. If that’s what happens then Ewanick is crazy like a fox. But this does just reek of outright stupidity IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Problem is that this is going to have no impact in the real world. Chevy’s will be Chevy’s. I suspect most people going to a dealer or seeing an ad wouldn’t even pick up on the change. To cause a backfire, there has to be a spark.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I’m not sure the “New Coke” old “Coca-Cola” analogy is applicable here b/c it was not simply a name change in this case. Coca-Cola tried a different product formula for their bread and butter soda.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Chevy’s been switching formulas for years cause they forgot the one that worked. OK, for that matter, GM forgot the formulas that worked.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Hey – don’t call them “Chevy” :p

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      Ignore the “New Coke/Old Coke” thing. Their memo simply uses “Coke” as an example for the “consistency of their branding”.

      “Coke”, also advertised as “Coca-Cola”. Used as an example of why they are dropping the “Chevy” label.

      WTF????

      EDIT: Ooops. Sorry Daanii2, didn’t see your comment below…

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    How ridiculous. Reminds me of some of my start-up clients who would spend a bunch of precious cash and management attention on developing a company logo — something that meant almost nothing. At the same time as their revenues, which should have been the focus, were anemic.

    The problems with Chevrolet have nothing to do with the fact that many people say Chevy.

  • avatar

    If anything, “Chevy” is the one point of genuine, POSITIVE nostalgia Gov’t Motors still has to cling to.

    So of course they try (and will undoubtably fail) to can it.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I hope GM’s new marketing guru isn’t behind this silly nonsense.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    “When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding.”

    Um, doesn’t he mean Coca-Cola?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Exactly. That’s the real irony here, Coke is a shortening of “Coca-Cola” just like Chevy is a shortened form of Chevrolet. I don’t think Oldsmobile died off because people went around calling the division “Olds.”

    • 0 avatar
      gcorley

      As well as Coca-Cola using “Coke”, there is Apple using “Mac” & “i-Pxx”???!!!!

      So where is their focus on consistency of their branding?

  • avatar

    GM is spinning this on Facebook as quelling internet rumors that they are killing the brand outright. They say we’re welcome to call it “Chevy” but they will refer to it as “Chevrolet”.

    Howard Johnson’s once fired employees caught calling them “HoJo’s”. McDonald’s ran from “Mickey D’s” for years. Both, and others, came around and not only embraced but even incorporated their pop-culture nicknames.

    Chevrolet’s problems, as stated by Daanii2, have nothing to do with the fact that many of us say Chevy. This division is finally building vehicles worthy of their heritage. But it’s only a start. Until the entire line exudes quality and value the way it did in 1955, they won’t be where they need to be.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    My first car was a Chevy. My second car, too, now that I think about it. Used to love it when American Pie came on the radio. Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry… No way they are going to make folks switch now.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Wait five minutes, GM will have different marketing concept.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    This has got to rank right up at the top of stupid automotive marketing ideas. It’s like Coca Cola trying to stop using Coke or Kleenex trying to use tissue.

    Drove my Chevy to the levy and all the marketing people at Chevy were dry (of meaningful ideas to sell vehicles).

    Batey, Campbell and Ewanick dumb, dumber and dumbest in no particular order.

    It’s a fruitless venture anyway, how do you stop people that have used Chevy all of their lifes from using it? Makes Chryco’s decision to separately brand Ram look like marketing genius.

    I’m sure I need some of whatever those clowns are smoking.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    I don’t think this is a bad idea at all. It COULD be a way to foster a new discipline around the brand — to take it, and what it stands for, seriously (for a change).

    There’s no directive to stop the general public from using the familiar “Chevy” nickname. In fact, I’m sure that would still be encouraged.

    Maybe the folks at Chevrolet have finally decided that a little formality can help you be taken more seriously in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      The problem with that kind of thinking is that it leads to team-building exercises and the like. Meaningless things. My experience, hard-earned, teaches me that all that stuff is a waste of time and money that should have been spent on something else.

      To be successful, you need to maximize revenues and minimize expenses. Focus on that. Focus on it laser like. Don’t worry about product names, logos, and most of all nicknames. Don’t worry about team spirit and employee evaluations. (Corporate morale is important, but these things are really irrelevant to that.)

      When you see what the people at the top focus on, you get a good idea of how the company is doing. Things do not look well for Chevy (excuse me, Chevrolet).

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I am with Lemmy-Powered on this one. The Number One car in the country was made by the Chevrolet Motor Division, dammit. The car had the name Chevrolet all over it. Chevy became a term of endearment by happy customers. But when the company starts using “Chevy”, it is like the boss coming to a meeting in tshirt and flipflops to show that he is just like everyone else.

      Well, Chevrolet should aspire to NOT be just like everyone else. The company should aspire to be Chevrolet again. Put the name on the cars, put the name in the ads, and be proud of it. Let the rest of the world call you Chevy, but know who you are: You are Chevrolet. Nobody else is going to respect you if you do not respect yourself.

  • avatar
    N Number

    So I guess this dashes hopes for the revival of my favorite regional marketing campaign, “Chevy Driving Texas”

  • avatar
    buzz phillips

    Can we still say “Caddy”?

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    We know why they are saying this, don’t we?

    It is because GM is embarrassed by the everyday common buyers who call Chevrolets, “Chevys”. They are embarrassed by their buyers and believe that their lack of success is due to the ignorant image associated with their buyers who call these cars, “Chevys”.

    What GM is hoping this formality would accomplish is to polish this division’s image to attract a better buyer. When you see how much the Impala sells over the Malibu, GM sees it too and recognizes that they do not have the ability of surviving on Impalas. Demographics is also telling here. GM is abandoning it’s traditional buyers of Chevys in the hopes of getting more attractive ones.

    Hyundai and Kia have won over these buyers, leaving Chevy in the lurch with older buyers within this group. So GM has decided to try what Ford successfully did over the past twenty years – cater to both high school and college educated buyers.

    GM thinks this is how to start doing that.

    Bottom line – it is an insulting attitude created by elitists in marketing and PR that are embarrassed to work with a Chevy. These arrogant morons think too much of themselves, and too little of those around them driving their cars. They are like children embarrassed that being seen with their parents would put them into a bad spot with their peers. What they do not understand is that “Chevy” is an endearment, not an embarrassment. We use endearments with products we have taken to heart. Since these marketing BOOBS have never taken this GM to their bosom, this is LOST on them.

    GM should fire these morons immediately!

  • avatar

    So, How will they deal with this???? LOL
    http://www.chevrolet.com.mx/content_data/LAAM/MX/es/GMMGM/showroom/chevrolet/vehiculos/chevy/index.html

    Ahh well since Opel is almost kaputt that will solve the issue…
    Or better change the AD advisors.
    Saludos

  • avatar
    brettc

    What the what? Like they’re going to eradicate the word “Chevy” from North American culture. Volkswagen doesn’t seem to have a problem with people saying Vee Dubba You or Vee-dub.

    Note to GM: Product is what sells things. Marketing is secondary. Although I’m not so sure how well the Cruze will sell compared to a Fiesta or a Honda Civic. No one wants to pay $17000 for a Chevy Turd. (Except maybe for the people that bought an Aveo. It seems like they might be easy to persuade.)

  • avatar
    ronhawk62

    In these days of political correctness I can see were Chevrolet is taking back their “slang” name. I wonder if those of us that own one can use the “C” word amongst ourselfs.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Political correctness should have an encounter with Chuck Norris, Technoviking and EPIC Beard Man, and the GT-R all together at the same time.

      We can throw Mr. Chavez in for sheering purposes.

  • avatar
    Jason

    Considering the brand that is Chevrolet, and it’s everyman-good-ol-American-boy place in the consciousness, it would actually make far more sense for GM to outlaw “Chevrolet” and rule that “Chevy” be the official marketing term.

  • avatar
    relton

    So, employees have to put a quarter in the little tin box every time they use the word Chevy, and in a few years, there will be enough money to pay the taxpayers back.

    Maybe they should start making people who say Caddy put in a dollar. It’s a higher class of car, you see. And, the taxpayers will get paid back even sooner.

    Bob

  • avatar

    And they were singing,
    “bye-bye, miss american pie.”
    Drove my Chevrolet to the levee,
    But the levee was dry.
    And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
    Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
    “this’ll be the day that I die.”

  • avatar

    And Mexican employees, directors and dealers to deposit 1 Peso everytime they use the “C” word, that may help Opel which is a good amount on GM Mexican sales!

    Saludos

  • avatar
    catbert430

    If the employees must deposit a quarter every time they say, “Chevy”, how much do they have to deposit if they slip and say, “Daewoo”?

  • avatar
    TexN

    Did they even bother to ask Chevy Chase what he thought?
    What about the fine community in Maryland by the same name?
    Think, people! Think!

    On a more serious note, how many millions of dollars are going to be spent “sanitizing” promotional materials, ads, letterhead, business cards, etc.?

  • avatar
    rmwill

    I first became aware of this incredibly stupid decision listening to the public radio show Marketplace this morning. They began by playing the clip from Don McLean’s American Pie. The point being, when you have artists writing songs about “Chevy”, why would you do anything to discourage it.

    Sounds like groupthink MBA’s and Brand Specialists are still calling the shots in the tubes. Sad.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Don’t worry, just like the on again off again “GM Mark of Excellence” decision, this one will probably change again when the next suit with a big paycheck gets the chair.

    Hopefully Chevy has the good sense to replicate the Bud Light swear jar procedure :).

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Good for them. I always thought using the word Chevy in official marketing material was stupid. You don’t hear Subie do you? Or Lambo?

    The car is called a Chevrolet. You can call it whatever you want, but that is its name. Glad to see GM return to it.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I guess the new broomsticks at the ad agency had to prove themselves useful, or otherwise what’s the point of changing direction? The problem is, the move is counter intuitive beyond belief. And an ad man not knowing the intrinsic qualities of a nickname, has nothing to do in advertising whatsoever.

    “Chevy” is a nickname on Chevrolet. Nicknames are not given to anybody, it’s given to people and things that we love, are loyal to, admire, and care for. Nicknames are earned, it’s a sign of trust and respect. We nickname friends, pets, a favorite writer. For people growing up using the “Chevy” moniker, Chevrolet now has made very clear to them that they are not on friendly terms anymore. Apparently, Chevrolet thinks that they are too good for them…

    So, what’s the goal here? After alienating just about anybody and everybody, they have now set their sights on alienating the only group that would buy Chevys to the end of days, the true believers, the hard core Chevy customers.

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Much ado about nothing

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    What’s happening?

    We need to talk about your Chevrolet T.P.S. Reports.

    Yeah. The cover sheet. I know. I know.
    Bill talked to me about it.

    Yeah. Did you get that memo?

    Yeah, I got the memo, and I understand the policy and the problem is just that I forgot the one time and I’ve already taken care of it so it’s not even really a problem anymore.

    Ah! Yeah.
    It’s just we’re putting new Chevrolet cover sheets on all the Chevy T.P.S. Reports before they go out now so if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that’d be great.
    All right!

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Even down here I know a Chevy is a Chevrolet (although GM doesn’t use the nick here). That decision is ridiculous.

    I think using the popular name of a product gets it nearer its customers

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely agree with you, the problem is when the BIG company gets a new Nobel Prize in Advertising on the chair or pays a good amount of money to the AD agency to “Rediscover the Corporate Values” or things like that…

      Build good,safe and well priced cars, which don’t make you go to the dealer 8 -10times to fix QC issues in a lousy 1 year or 40K Km Bumper to bumper Warranty period and they will sell well…No matter how they call them.

      ¿Sounds like the Honda recipe?

      Saludos

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    A rose by any other name would smell as….crappy?

    They could rename it Big Boobies….I still ain’t buying.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I read the NYTimes with my coffee. The Chevy article was on page A1. The was an ad for Chevy’s on page A13. It said go to chevy.com.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I can see it now.

    Scene: Chevrolet dealer

    [Salesman 1]: No, man, you’re crazy – Chris Farley was the best thing to come out of SNL.

    [Salesman 2]: Bull. Chevy Chase all the way.

    [Salesman 1]: Chris.

    [Salesman 2]: Chevy.

    [Salesman 1]: Chris!

    (Manager walks by)

    [Salesman 2]: Chevy!

    [Manager]: Quarter! In the can, NOW! How many times do I have to tell you?

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    20 years ago, the GM HR department removed the last “e” in the word “employee” in all their documents as a printing cost savings from an employee suggestion program. Think of the money they could save by switching to Chevy and eliminating the extra four letters…..If anyone submits a cost savings on this, I get a cut.

  • avatar
    wsn

    That paves the way for Chinese Chery’s entry.

    There is no reason to sue them over the brand name any more.

  • avatar

    This new marketing direction is gonna give our good ‘ol boys down here a real fit, because they’re either Ford guys or Chevy guys. Chevrolet guys sounds a little sissy. : – )

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    This got me to thinking, No where on my little HHR does the word Chevrolet, or Chevy for that matter, appear on the car. In fact, I am almost certain that NONE of Chevrolet’s current lineup has the name Chevrolet on it.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I think you’re right. I did a quick look to see if it was on the Silverado anywhere and it’s not. If they didn’t put on the back of a pickup, I can’t imagine that it’s on any of the other models.

  • avatar

    if only an internal memo to give the brand stature and consistency…no big deal, too bad it was leaked.

    if a backdoor, grassroots strategy to get people talking Chevy…genius!

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Why not make the Chevy culture everywhere, instead of killing it off where Chevy means something good. Nowhere on my CHEVY Corvair does the word Chevrolet appear. The bowtie is on it a couple of times, Corvair and Monza several times. No Chevrolet anywhere.

    Note to GM: Worry about the cars, not what people call them, oh, well, maybe worry what people call them! I mean don’t worry if they call it Chevy, worry when they don’t call it Chevy.

  • avatar
    eastcoastcar

    Chevy is an iconic name, and if GM is paying a lot of staff to figure out how to kill this name off, well, no wonder the company is in trouble. Chevy is not a cheapening of the legacy or of the current day—the focus should be on making ‘must own’ high quality cars under the Chevy/Chevrolet brand and this is where staff time should be spent, not on messing with an iconic brand name that has strong global recognition.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    This new wonderboy CMO Ewanick is not off to a good start. First he refuses an in-person meeting with Publicis, the agency he fired. Now he’s allowing this kind of idiocy.

    But the Chevy “Cuss Can” made me think of an off-color joke often told by character actress Celeste Holm.

    Holm was nominated for an Oscar in a 1949 film she made with Loretta Young, “Come To The Stable.” They both played NUNS, which was a stretch….Loretta Young had become quite pious after having — allegedly — given birth to Clark Gable’s love child. Young announced to the cast & crew that there would no swearing or strong language on the set and set up a penalty box. If someone should slip up & use a G-dd-mn or sh – t, they would need to put a nickel in the box. The proceeds would go to a Vatican charity at the end of the shoot.

    Then, Celeste Holm’s good friend Ethel Merman stopped by the set to visit. Ethel took a 10-dollar bill out of her purse and slipped it into the Curse Box. In her loud and very musical voice, Merman proclaimed, “There you go Loretta. Now you can go f–k yourself”.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Don’t even dream of refering to the luxury division as “Caddie”…

    And don’t call me Shirley!!

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Could be worse I often referred to my Silverado as a “Craprolet”.

    And my friends and family who were burned by Chevy products always referred to them as “P’s O. S.”, never Chevy or Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    bugo

    “When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding.”
     
    Uh, “Coke” is short for Coca Cola.  Whoever wrote this memo is an idiot.


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