• Jun 10, 2010
Folks, there are bad ideas, and there ones that are legendary in their badness. Unfortunately for General Motors, it would appear that the automaker may very well be lobbying for its own wing in the Dumb Idea Hall of Fame. The New York Times reports that a memo distributed to workers at the company's headquarters earlier this week instructs them to cease referring to the Chevrolet brand by its long-standing nickname, Chevy. Going forward, only Chevrolet is to be used. The reasoning? So-called branding consistency. If you're thinking, "That's insane," well, we don't blame you.

It gets better.

The Times further points out that the memo, signed by Chevy marketing vice president Jim Campbell (you see what we did there) and Alan Batey, VP of Chevy sales and service (there we go again), uses Coke – Coke – as an example of what GM is trying to achieve with this approach. It would seem that the powers-that-be at the RenCen are oblivious to the irony that Coke is, of course, shorthand for the company's formal name, Coca-Cola.

In a nutshell, we feel that the Coke comparison GM uses in the memo is ultimately rather apt, given that the idea of memory-holing "Chevy" as part of some absurd branding exercise seems destined to be a failure on the level of New Coke. GM's got its work cut out for itself, regardless. As of right now, Chevrolet.com has 5,480 "Chevy" mentions on it according to Google. GM.com? 1,730 more. That Chevy is inextricably tied to Chevrolet is a reality GM's marketers are apparently divorced from.

We can't be the only ones who think this is perhaps the very worst in a long history of horrible ideas... So, what's your take? Hit the jump and have your say in our poll. Thanks to CpuYoda for the tip!

[Source: The New York Times]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 119 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chevrolet sounds more up-scale compared to Chevy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Apple was short for Apple Computer from 1976 until 2007 when the company officially changed their name to Apple, Inc.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..Chevy..
      next.
      • 4 Years Ago
      GM may be trying to put some respect back in the name of, the most successful automobile on the planet, called Chevrolet. Look around you people, Everytime you see a major figure in the news or showing up for an appearance, they are in a Suburban or trailblazer. It's all part of something we lost in transition. We don't here anyone calling there Toyota's - Toy's! Maybe because they are not fun to drive, and I for one, would be scarred to even get behind the wheel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Imagine the shock and horror that a significant part of Chevy's base would feel if they found out that the company was named after a Swiss racing driver of French descent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Edsel

        Big... words... hurt... brain... arrrgh!
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL Yes! I was pondering the same thoughts too. I always found the juxtaposition of NASCAR & "Chevrolet" a cultural oxymoron.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think GM is trying to exterminate the name "Chevy" in the general public, but just wants the marketing to use the full name, "Chevrolet"- in which case Coke is an apt comparison, it says "Coca-Cola" on the side of the bottle and in many of the ads.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The fact that the GM official used "Coke" as an example of brands that are used consistently shows that they are just as clueless now as they always have been.

      Plus ça change...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Now let's see if they instruct their lawyers to not prosecute anyone using the word "Chevy" improperly..... As if.
      • 4 Years Ago
      We need to get Obama and the union out of General Motors ownership and dump the dude lying to us on TV. Only a government idiot or imported mafia union thug would EVER think of losing 'Chevy'. God, I abhor stupid quesitions, actions, and people.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This doesn't make any sense.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I read this directly off the GM official page on Facebook: "General Motors: Hi Everyone! Just want to reassure everyone, we are "not" killing Chevy as is being reported in some circles. In fact, we like when people call it "Chevy." It reflects 100 years of history and connection with the American People. We do have to remember that Chevrolet is one of the fastet-growing automotive brands globally. Going forward, we will consistently use "Chevrolet" but you can feel free to say "Chevy""

        Sounds like to me that GM just wants to avoid confusion by consistently using one name. Also, note that they said its perfectly fine to say chevy, even pointing out the history of the brand.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Drove my Chevrolet to the levy, but the levy was dry..."

        Yeah that's not going to work at all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Shave - Row - Lit
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, it makes an awful *lot* of sense when you consider the context.

        See, GM wants it's own publicity department(s?) to stop saying "Chevy". This memo was not sent to the news media. It was not sent to you and me. It was sent to employees at the headquarters. It was done in a stupid way, but their intent is pretty clear to me.

        Recently, AB had a link to a Google Trends graph showing the Nissan Leaf was more popular in the media than the Chevy Volt. I commented then that perhaps they should also have included "Chevrolet Volt" in the search. Doing so adds 50% to the mentions of the Volt, which while not sufficient to reverse the positions, does put the two in the same ballpark.

        This is indicative of how people will find information -- it's far more likely they'll find information about the Leaf than the Volt. But then you use Google Trends to rank simply "volt" against "leaf" and you get far better -- and more -- results for both, and the Leaf is still twice as exposed as the Volt this year. What this tells me is not to try to build excitement too early, because it'll peter out by the time the product comes to market. The key is to ride the wave of excitement, like Nissan is doing. Chevy's best hope with the Volt now is to hang onto Nissan's coattails!

        The thing is, the world is bigger than the Internet, and the Internet is huge (sorry for stating the obvious). TFA quotes not just "Coke", but "FedEx", "KFC", and "The Shack" (though personally I wouldn't associate that last phrase with Radio Shack). All those brand nicknames developed before the Internet.

        And on the flipside, nowhere on BMW's site is there reference to "Bimmer" or "Beemer". Mercedes doesn't talk about "Merc". VW doesn't say "Veedub".

        However, "Chevy" is far more marketable than any of the German brands' nicknames, and my feeling is that GM should definitely *embrace* "Chevy", and in fact reduce usage of "Chevrolet" -- though not in quite such an unthinking, direct way.
        Alex
        • 4 Years Ago
        How about changing Chevrolet to Chevy? Crisis adverted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I can think of no better compliment when fans and owners affectionately give their cars a nickname. No other current US automaker can make this claim. Chevrolet embraced it decades ago and used 'Chevy' in much of it's marketing. Why the change of heart now? Do they want to become more formal and distance themselves from fans? Seems a little bit snobbish to me...

        c'mon Chevy, embrace the love!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oh, I'm not saying they have to advertise Chevy. Despite the popularity of the nickname, their best ad campaigns have been based around Chevrolet, not Chevy (Heartbeat, See the USA, Baseball hot dogs, etc).

        But thinking you can stamp it out... That's nonsensical.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm a marketing major, and I can totally understand why they want to do this. People on this blog are very knowledgable with cars so its really a no-brainer for you guys, but some people hear chevrolet and chevy and it may sound like two completely different brands. It's a really complicated situation for them, and however this ends up, it'll be a very interesting case study to reference for anyone in marketing and branding.
        • 4 Years Ago
        rather then fighting "Chevy" they should focus on making "Chevy" sound as proud as possible... accept reality and change it, don't fight it
        • 4 Years Ago
        Here's a better idea: Get rid of that tacky 1974 gold that Chevy puts on all it's emblems. It looks like ass.
        • 4 Years Ago
        From what I understand, the idea is not to get consumers to stop using Chevy, but to get all employees, dealers, and marketing to use Chevrolet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "No other current US automaker can make this claim."

        Caddy
        Merc
        Mopar
        Vdub

        These are just off the top of my head. I'm sure others can think of more.
        billmalibu
        • 4 Years Ago
        I get the one name branding concept, but I think GM has it backwards. Dump Chevrolet and keep Chevy. In daily conversation, I can't recall anyone calling a car from this division a "Chevrolet", it is always called a Chevy. I am guessing this is because Chevrolet is a bit bulky (too many syllables) to say out loud.

        Happens on other brands with bulky, multisyllable names too: In normal speaking often Mercedes Benz is called Benz, BMW is called Beemer, Mitsubishi is called Mitsu, Cadillac is called Caddy (when is that GM memo coming out?), Lamborgini (I am not sure I can even spell it without looking) is called Lambo etc, etc. I can't think of a 1 or 2 syllable auto brand name with a nickname:

        Audi=Audi, Ford=Ford, Buick=Buick, Honda=Honda, Mini=Mini, Dodge=Dodge etc, etc
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think most consumers (fans and haters alike) would prefer Chevy though...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Frank- You're correct on Caddy- they even used that naming when they introduced the Catera- Caddy that zigs...
        Mopar is a a proper brand, although not a vehicle brand.
        Merc- I've not heard anyone referring to Mercury as Merc- Please don't call a Mercedes a Merc. That hurts the soul as much as calling various iterations of a VW a Mk anything. Jezza shouldn't do it either. Correct nomenclature is Golf1, Golf2 etc.
        Speaking of VDub- didn't know they were an American car maker now.

        Cheers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ironically enough, I'm wearing a "Team Chevy" shirt that I got from a Chevy rep at a Chevy pavillion at a NASCAR race. Maybe it'll be a collector's item!
        • 4 Years Ago
        ti makes more sense to scrap Chevrolet and just call it Chevy
        they could have argued that it would go with the turning of a new page for the company

        I would say stop wasting money and focus this effort elsewhere to bring the brand image up


        • 4 Years Ago
        My dad was a Ford-Merc dealer in the 50's. we called them "Shove-it-or-leave-it." (Don't jump on me, I have no blind loyalties to any brands now)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dinah Shore is spinning at 8700 rpm . . .
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you don't know that Chevy and Chevrolet are one and the same, you should be buying a tricycle, not a car.
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