June 10, 2010

G.M. sends a corporate memo telling its employees to stop using the word "Chevy."

“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.”

But — as the linked NYT article notes — "Coke" is short for "Coca-Cola" and the company name Apple doesn't overwhelm the product names like iPhone and Mac. How obtuse can a corporation get?

If Coke had to pick one name for its product would it pick Coke or Coca-Cola? It would pick Coke, so why doesn't G.M. tell its employees to stop saying Chevrolet? The longer, Frenchier word is preferable to the very American nickname?

But I agree that consistency is important. The more consistently stupid a company is, the more its stupidity will be prominent and recognizable with the consumer.

***

What about all the pop songs?
Elton John, Bob Seger, Mötley Crüe and the Beastie Boys have all sung about Chevy, and hip-hop artists rap about “Chevy Ridin’ High” or “Ridin’ in My Chevy.”
And:
Bye-bye, indeed, Miss American Pie. If General Motors has its way, you won’t be driving your Chevy to the levee ever again.
(Hey! Did the NYT write this article to try to cancel out that embarrassing misspelling — "levy" for "levee" — in David Brooks's column the other day?)

UPDATE: "We love it when people call us Chevy."

71 comments:

CrankyProfessor said...

We've been told to cease and desist with ampersands in the name of these Colleges. Colleges Communications insist that we spell it out!

DaveW said...

How obtuse can a corporation get?

Pretty obtuse. But GM is no longer a corporation in the normal sense. It's a pseudo-corp. As soon as the government stops propping it up it will fail. As it should have been allowed to do a couple years ago.

john said...

Forgot one -

So bye bye Miss American pie,
Drove my .. to the levy,

Jim said...

Gee, I wonder what Ford's pissing Calvin will have to say about this? And is Chevy's pissing Calvin now to be known only by the name "Urinating Calvin"?

And since GM is government owned, is this restriction permanent, or are we just in the notice-and-comment or interim-permanent-rule period?

john said...

Oops, I should read it first. Or did you add that part later?

Capt. Schmoe said...

Stupid is as stupid does. Apparently, the webmaster for the official Chevrolet web site didn't get the memo. Er.. I mean e-mail.

El Presidente said...

And there will be no love'n in any Chevy vans either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiEIToOWr64

MadisonMan said...

I view this type of decision as some upper-level Management person making a decision and flying with it as a way of justifying their job's existence. (Of course you need me working for you! Look at what I've helped decide!!) I wonder if they served New Coke at the Meeting that discussed and approved this idea?

Business School Graduates do really baffling things.

Comrade X said...

Government Motors would do better to worry about their other unofficial nickname.

Tibore said...

G.M. is being obtuse? Isn't that like saying water is wet?

Tibore said...

Oh, while we're at it:
"“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."

Let's see... GM's teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, saved only by a government bailout. Their products are ridiculed. They lost a brand a few years back (Oldsmobile) and their other brands are seeing shrinking product lines. It's only a matter of time before they see routine labor strife rise again. And this is what a couple of their VPs take time to worry about?

What's that saying? Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?...

AllenS said...

Whoever made this decision has probably never owned either a Chevrolet or Chevy.

Jules Aimé said...

I suspect the real problem is precisely all those old pop songs. I bet GM has research that indicates that when people in the market they want to attract hears the word "Chevy", they picture some aging loser they don't want to associated with.

When I was a kid we used to say "an old guy in a hat" no I are one.

vet66 said...

This is what Government does. They become a stultifying presence over creativity worrying more about their government guaranteed jobs with nary a whit of concern for the customers. In this make-believe world the customers are an inconvenience best left to the gentle ministrations of the snake-oil hawkers.

Buy an old car with a healthy body and frame, drop a hot 350 engine into it with an Allison transmission, custom paint it all for around $15K then drive by the soon-to-be-vacant Chevy dealership.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Let's see... GM's teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, saved only by a government bailout.

Lets not forget that bailout pretty much required the Obama administration to toss Federal bankruptcy laws right into the dustbin to make it happen.

But its always ok to break Federal law when Obama does it. Greater good and all that.

lemondog said...

Gov Mot would wish:

"So bye-bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevrolet to the levrolet but the levrolet was dry?"

Some snobby Gen X paper-pusher with no respect for the 'Chevy' moniker or for the American tradition of and affection for applying nicknames.

GMay said...

Other GSE's will soon follow. Employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving their e-mails today in their Senate offices.

Old Dad said...

Odd--I just checked out the Chevrolet home page, and the word "Chevy" outnumbers "Chevrolet" about four to one. The brand is identified as "The Chevy Experience."

I drive a Tahoe. They could rename the brand "Herman", but it would still be a Chevy. My guess is that anyone oldere than, say, 30 couldn't change the way they think about Chevy even if they wanted to, and they don't.

You know that some pointy headed marketing nerd spent money that GM doesn't have market testing this steaming pile of nonsense. Go figure.

Christian said...

Going forward
In the future
Forwarder in the future

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ts78mxcscs

bill said...

Drove my Chevrolet branded General Motors vehicle to the dam that runs along the banks of a river or canal /

but the dam that runs along the banks of a river or canal was dry

Fred4Pres said...

How about shitty and crap? Are those descriptive terms banned too?

Original Mike said...

Yeah, I wonder how much (taxpayer) money this guy gets paid.

Original Mike said...

"but the dam that runs along the banks of a river or canal was dry"

It just ocurred to me (I'm slow, I admit it). How can the levy be dry?

Mr Evilwrench said...

So we have a couple of management weasels wanking, and the government motors flunkies will sound like punctilious dorks, what's new? It's not like the usage is going to penetrate society.

My dad tells the story of driving a truck in his early years, for Coke in fact. They were VERY particular at that time that the employees refer to the product as "Coca-Cola". How far did that get?

Ron said...

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove My Chevrolet,
To My French Bidet,
Saying 'This will be the Government's Last Try'
As the rest of America asks "Why?"

rhhardin said...

Pronounce the T. It's the American way.

Big Mike said...

Hey! Did the NYT write this article to try to cancel out that embarrassing misspelling — "levy" for "levee" — in David Brooks's column the other day?

Probably not. Since Brooks is supposedly a conservative (coulda fooled me!) he's not merely allowed to make ignorant mistakes in his columns, one could argue that he's encouraged to do so.

WV: stright - the way Aussies pronounce the word for a line that does not bend

Dust Bunny Queen said...

How obtuse can a corporation get?


Really really obtuse since it is now run by government idiots and union thugs.

These people only know how to run things into the ground.

Bye bye Chevy.

Big Mike said...

Of course one advantage of spelling out "Chevrolet" is that it makes it easier to transform the signs to "Space to let" when the federal money runs out and GM finally collapses.

Brian O'Connell said...

I was slightly impressed a few years back when McDonald's embraced the (largely African-American) nickname MickeyD's. I bet there was a battle in the marketing department over that one.

It's pretty stupid for a company fight its customers over a term of affection they've adopted. If marketing is a conversation (and all that Cluetrain stuff) it's like telling customers to shut up.

Big Mike said...

@Tibore, in case you hadn't noticed, they've also closed down the Saturn and Pontiac brands.

So much for my lust for a Sky/ Solstice. Now I lust after a Mustang when my ten-year-old Dodge R/T dies.

Original Mike said...

@Big Mike: At least they did the right thing and sold Saab (rather than kill it). Now, why they ever bought it in the first place will remain an eternal mystery.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Buy an old car with a healthy body and frame, drop a hot 350 engine into it with an Allison transmission, custom paint it all for around $15K then drive by the soon-to-be-vacant Chevy dealership.

AHA!! A man/woman after my own heart. With the exception of a newer 4x4 the newest vehicle we own is 1972.

THIS is my project car which we hope to have ready for Hot August Nights this year. Can't wait to tool around Reno with the top off (of the car not me)on those hot august nights.

My hubby's daily driver is a 1967 Chevy Stepside with a 350 crate motor from GM, 700R4 tranny, FlowMaster exausts, disc brake fron end, lowered 2 inches all around, TA radials on Chevy (ha ha) rallys. Looks good, sounds sweet and gets pretty good gas mileage. Heads turn when it drives down the street.

Oh and a satellite radio system and good sound system so he can listen to that nasty old conservative talk radio or music.

Also a 1957 Chevy ton and half flat bed. 1971 GMC long bed pickup with a new V-8 motor to haul the tractor and a 1972 Chevy Factory Utility Truck. The last two are still in the remodeling stage and need paint but the insides and mechanics are all upgraded to new.

Take that Government Motors.

VW pronapp. power napping at its highest level.

Big Mike said...

@Original me, I only know one ethnic Swede but if he's any inidication then closing Saab would have led to an international incident.

GMay said...

"How can the levy be dry?"

Not constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers?

Original Mike said...

@Big Me - I started out to say that I liked our chances against Sweden; I think we could take them.

Then I remembered who our CIC was. Maybe it would be better if we negotiated.

ricpic said...

This is what happens when management is culled from the same ranks that populate the upper reaches of government. Total separation from bitter clingers. And Chevy for Chevrolet is so bitter clinger.

lemondog said...

So bye, bye Miss American pie, indeed.

Apparently 'Chevy' being thrown under the bus for reasons of emerging global presence.
It’s sold in more than 130 countries, and spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin said the brand is looking for greater consistency in its messages.

“Chevrolet has grown over the past several years and become a truly global brand,” Martin said.


Bla, blah, blah......

I assume they are doing it because Chevy has greater than ever overseas competition, with more cars being sold in China than in the US, and 'Chevy' which in the past might have resonanted, no longer does. The use of Chevy and Chevrolet might confuse.

List of Chinese Auto manufactueres

Joan said...

I had no idea that the nickname MickeyD's was largely African-American. Arizona as a state may not be what racists consider "white" because of the large Hispanic population here, but one thing that's not in dispute is the tiny percentage of the population represented by blacks... and everyone around here says MickeyD's, much the same way we all call Burger King "BK". Other fast food chains have less benign nicknames.

This GM memo just represents the latest stupid government pronouncement. It's obvious the people at the top have no experience actually doing anything, because when they finally get out of their conference rooms and do something, aka send a memo, what they tell you to do is so absurd anyone with an ounce of common sense immediately bursts out laughing.

Freeman Hunt said...

They don't want them to use "Chevy?" Are they insane? Do they know their customers at all? Do they not see that some of their marketing segments have a very strong affinity for the nickname "Chevy?" Someone who is marketing-challenged came up with that one.

"Hey, Vern, nice truck!"
"Yup, that's my new Chev-roh-lay."

edutcher said...

I wonder if this came from the desk of Jean Francois Kerry. Chevrolet passes the 'global test' so much better than that vulgar Americanism, Chevy.

The Drill SGT said...

MM said...Business School Graduates do really baffling things.

I resent that association...

The clown who wrote the memo had to be a Marketing or a Communications major.

We Operations Research / Industrial Engineering B-school grads would rather be out redesigning the factory floor to eliminate another couple of UAW jobs and make a little money again...

AllenS said...

Remember this?

Like a Rock. How lame was that?

WV: sockk

What Robert Byrd put on his feet when he was a child.

Joe said...

If GM is concerned about branding, why do they insist on having GMC? Why not have ALL trucks be marketed by Chevrolet and while at it, change the the name of GM to Chevrolet?

(Incidentally, Ford getting rid of Mercury was one of the wisest decisions yet. GM should drop Buick.)

And for a bit of automotive schadenfreude; on my commute home there was heavy traffic near my exit. A car had stalled in the third lane. It was a Mercedes SLK.

Shanna said...

Other fast food chains have less benign nicknames.

So, when does Taco Bell start calling itself “Taco Hell”? Although you never know. I was surprised BK had a commercial that blantantly said "we are ripping off the McDonalds breakfast sandwich" so anything can happen!

It will always be chevy. Idiots.

ricpic said...

Hey Allen S, love your comments but have to disagree about Like A Rock. Thought it hit the right note.

MadisonMan said...

I was surprised BK had a commercial that blantantly said "we are ripping off the McDonalds breakfast sandwich" so anything can happen!

Now BK has ads that say We know our breakfast sandwich sucks, so have a hamburger instead!

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

The longer, Frenchier word is preferable to the very American nickname?

I just read the other dayt the GM had dropped its long time ad agency for a French one.

So is the memo a coincidence, or a conspiracy?

WV: torsm- isn't that the description of a lateral force?

hawkeyedjb said...

"Pronounce the T. It's the American way."

That's how we got the Chevette.

BJK said...

In order to keep a consistent marketing message, they should likewise stop referring to product lines such as 'Cobalt' or 'Trailblazer.'

People who want to buy a Chevrolet don't want to worry about inconsistent product lines.

/facepalm

Original Mike said...

"Hey Allen S, love your comments but have to disagree about Like A Rock. Thought it hit the right note."

But. Rocks don't move.

Reminds me of the Chevy Nova.

Hector Owen said...

I think lemondog above was hinting that GM wants avoid being confused with Chinese automaker Chery. This move would be a preemptive surrender, a very Obamian thing to do.

wv= "imate" The next great Apple product. No dating required.

former law student said...

Is there any wonder why DAvid Brooks, a New York Jew, might unthinkingly type Levy?

The professor's old enough to have seen this advertising poster:

http://vintage.artehouse.com/perl/frameAndServeImage.pl?imageID=19956&imageWidth=200

Fareed said...

Really, really... this is exactly what is wrong with companies today. Everything, including how employees have to refer to a brand is cookie cutter. Soon, they will be telling their employees how many times wipe after taking a $h!t. BTW, many identify with Chevy more I would say.

Big Mike said...

@Original me, ROFLMAO

Cedarford said...

GM has a right to try and keep brand names, resist vulgarization. A little hard since "Chevy" was alllowed to remain unchallenged in vernacular since the 40s and I believe even GM used it in commercials.
But yes, if they want their employees to say "Cadillac" instead of "Caddy" as an expression, sure. Just as lawyers may wish to have firm members refrain from using terms in the vernacular like shyster and bloodsucker in their dealings with the public for the preferred "attorney" "counselor"..

In sports, too, there are media attempts to substitute black slang for existing words - and pushback. When the NBA foolishly embraced a slew of new "authentic" words - "trey", "jamma", "doing the thang" - for a 3-pointer, a dunk, and one-on-one, many fans thought they had gone too ghetto.

Chase said...

Really, just heard a "Chevy" commercial 4 min ago on the radio (KFI) here in So Cal. It even told listeners to go to "Chevy.com".

What's up?

halojones-fan said...

Please refer to them as "Lego bricks" or "toys" rather than just "Legos".

AllenS said...

What I used to love about the Chev brand was the fact that they did vehicles in 3 year segments. I owned a 1949 Chev truck and you could go to the junk yard and be able to use a lot of parts from any 1949, 50, 51. They kept that up well into the 1960's.

I used to get the JC Whitney catalogue, and then would cross reference part numbers for a part and see what other year vehicles would match. Then go to the junk yard and get the part.

former law student said...

I hate Lego.

Lego was the name of an Israeli irrigation company founded in 1906. The much later established Lego toy company took them to court and forced them to change their name. There is no justice for the now Elgo Irrigation company.

Mark said...

They've just hired some market researcher who's told them that the word "Chevy" is associated with "shoddy", "cheap", "unreliable", etc. and decided that the best thing to do was to ditch the word for something more European sounding.

Because that's how these drones think.

showbiz111 said...

A levy is a tax, hence the NYSlimes would prefer that spelling and concept no matter the subject matter being discussed.

lemondog said...

re: Lego, interesting
Apparently Lego (original) did not register their name:

An Israeli company, Lego Irrigation, establised in 1906 and with exports to over eighty countries, did not bother to register their name as a trademark. Lego Juris A/S the Danish toy building block manufacturer managed to force Lego Israel to rename, and Elgo Irrigation was born. Every mold for a sprinkler, dripper or coupling with the name Lego thereon, needed to be retooled.

Lego Irrigation was as widely known as the Lego brick company, and was founded 28 years earlier, with the Danish company starting using the name Lego only in 1934. Arguably, irrigation is a more significant technology than children’s toys. There is a lesson here. If your trading name is valuable, protect it.


When did intellectual property laws come into existence? Maybe should have allowed for some sort of grandfather ruling, huh?

Brian O'Connell said...

Joan: I had no idea that the nickname MickeyD's was largely African-American.

I didn't commission a study, but the first dozen times or so that I heard the term, it was from blacks. So I assumed that it was another of their many linguistic innovations.

The fact that many whites use the word today is neither here nor there. Whites also say "cool" and "dis" and "24/7" and "flippity floppity floop."

gs said...

The longer, Frenchier word is preferable to the very American nickname?

But I agree that consistency is important. The more consistently stupid a company is, the more its stupidity will be prominent and recognizable with the consumer.


In the interests of consistency, I trust that GM will follow through and train its employees to say 'Chevrolet' as the French would. The French 'r' will play especially well with American consumers. Sales staff at dealerships should aggressively correct their customers' pronunciation. Be sure to get endorsements from Jacques Chirac and Dominique Villepin.

Chase said...

GM BACKTRACKS:

Responding to negative reactions to an internal memorandum discouraging use of the word Chevy, General Motors moved on Thursday to explain its strategy and to reassure consumers that it still valued the popular nickname for Chevrolet.

HDHouse said...

I've been working in the branding area for 30 years and there is one really good rule which is "if you have spent billions (or some amount of money) and EVERYONE knows who you are at the mere mention of your name - don't touch a thing".

Chevrolet will have about as much luck at eliminating the "Chevy" as Coca-Cola will have eliminating Coke. People abbreviate or shorten for convenience and as a sign of familiarity.

You can hire your own internal "brand police" but hire the right person.

Tibore said...

"The Drill SGT said...

The clown who wrote the memo had to be a Marketing or a Communications major.
"

I actually disagree. From my college experience, I can easily and vividly picture a number of Marketing as well as "communications" ("Journalism" in my school) majors who'd argue vociferously against such an edict. You can't buy the ease of association or the identifiability that comes with a public bestowing a nickname on a brand. Every person I'm thinking of, if this had come up in our class back when I was in school, would've sounded off long and hard at the idea.

DADvocate said...

Now we know why they make crappy cars.

Crap for brains.

DADvocate said...

The fact that many whites use the word today is neither here nor there. Whites also say "cool" and "dis" and "24/7" and "flippity floppity floop."

I don't know how old you are but many whites have been using the word for several decades plus the other ones you mention except "dis" as in meaning disrespect. You seem to assume way too much or have had narrow life experiences and think you've seen the world.

Lonetown said...

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was built by corruptocraps and bribery and now the whole city is effed up and I have to call the one thing GM had going for it, a Chevrolet!