In a story first reported by the New York Times, an internal memo from Chevrolet reveals that the company no longer wants employees to use the nickname “Chevy”. I know, it’s ridiculous. Here’s some of the obvious reasons it’s a bad idea, and one major one that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere.
In some ways “Chevy” is more a part of America’s fabric than “Chevrolet” — from song references to advertising to Chevrolet’s own website. Fine, those things are all important — but there’s a bigger hole in GM’s name change: the entire country of Mexico.
You may not be familiar with Mexico’s car culture, but it’s pretty robust in it’s own way. The VW Beetle was manufactured there until about a decade ago — but not the Beetle you see high school girls cruising in — the “Lemon” one. That’s old school. Also, tons of Chevrolet/GM models are built there. That’s beside the point, but brings up an important fact: cars, especially GM cars, are as much a part of Mexico as beautiful sunsets and pay-bathrooms.
Wait, there’s an even bigger issue: Chevrolet in Mexico is called…wait for it…Chevy (see image). Apparently, that market isn’t important to Chevrolet, as they’ve completely written off the Mexican population in one fell swoop.
Even worse is GM’s explanation for the switch (per NYT): “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.”
Interesting argument, since Coke is short for Coca-Cola and Apple isn’t even the company’s real name. It’s Macintosh, originally, and the logo has taken on a name of its own. So wtf are GM’s marketers thinking? For one thing, this is probably Goodby’s fault:
In April, Chevrolet dismissed its long-time ad agency, Campbell-Ewald. The account went to Publicis USA, but only for a month before it was switched again, this time to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Klaus-Peter Martin, a G.M. spokesman, confirmed the memo. ‘We’re going to use Chevrolet instead of Chevy going forward in our communications,’ he said in a telephone interview, and linked the change to the move to Goodby (emphasis ours).
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this has got to be a PR screw-up. There’s no way Goodby would recommend GM scrap the brand’s iconic nickname, is there? C’mon Goodby — you’re one of the few who don’t make this kind of mistake. Get on the horn and let us know (we reached out but haven’t heard back).
Thoughts on this one guys? Run free.
Update: Forgot to mention that anytime GM employees say Chevy they have to put a quarter in a “swear jar” of sorts. Carry on.