By any other name ...
Efforts to ban the use of the word ‘Chevy’ are laughable
By Jennifer Hadley 06/24/2010
F ollowing the follies and foibles of the American auto industry is something I never seem to grow tired of. And with laughing being my favorite thing to do, my gratitude goes out to Chevrolet for its role in adding at least two new laugh lines to my face (to say nothing of the incredible abdominal workout I’ve gotten in the past few weeks).
It all started with a little memo that The New York Times got their mitts on. Written by Alan Batey, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet, and Jim Campbell, the GM division’s vice president of marketing, the memo informed Chevrolet employees in Detroit that from here on out, all marketing and advertising efforts would nix the use of the word “Chevy,” replacing it with its formal moniker of Chevrolet, as in founder Louis Chevrolet, a race car driver who got the company off the ground in 1911. The memo also requested that employees remove the word “Chevy” from their conversational vernacular, even when speaking of the iconic brand here in the United States.
“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you’d communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward,” the memo read. To be fair, they didn’t threaten to place wiretaps on the phones to ensure that employees weren’t secretly trying to get one over on their bosses by speaking the cursed word of Chevy.
Nor was there any mention of shock collars — much like a bark collar — being used to retrain employees not to speak of the company’s nearly 90-year-old nickname. They just don’t want to perpetuate the confusion. Yes, the confusion.
Apparently, according to Batey, folks in other countries are confused by the use of Chevy. That is, they don’t understand that a Chevy is a Chevrolet. Undoubtedly, they go online and see the term Chevy and think: “Well, I did enjoy ‘Caddyshack’ tremendously, but I don’t want to buy my own Chevy.” I assume these are the same folks who have a hard time figuring out that a Coke is a Coca-Cola. So, in order to correct this massively confusing message that Chevrolet is sending, we need to eradicate the vile word from our vocabulary.
Of course, within hours of the memo being leaked, Chevrolet became a viral laughing stock, so the company did one of the few things it does well, which is backpedal, and issue an “oops, just kidding about that,” statement (delivered not via Batey or Campbell, of course, but by the company’s spokesman, Tom Wilkinson).
The statement was essentially a mea culpa for the company’s boneheaded decision, fluffed up with a bit of flattery bestowed upon the American public for our affectionate use of the word Chevy. Still, brand consistency is apparently paramount to the success of Chevrolet, so the decision to stick to the full name remains intact. But, the company will understand us if we call and ask for a quote on a 2011 Chevy Volt. And we don’t have to ask for a remix of McLean’s iconic “American Pie,” wherein we’ll drive our Chevrolets to the levee.
And there you have it. A Chevrolet is still a Chevy. Corporate conglomerates are still not immune from making ridiculously stupid decisions. And my abs got one hell of a workout.
Contact Jennifer Hadley at firstname.lastname@example.org