So, the New York Times reports, the geniuses at GM have decided that a Chevrolet is no longer a Chevy:
On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II.
And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.
And that “consistent brand message” would be: GM stands for Gone Mental.
Exhibit B: “A postscript to the memo says a sort of cuss jar – a plastic ‘Chevy’ can – has been placed in the hallway. ‘Every time someone uses “Chevy” rather than Chevrolet,’ the note said, the employee is expected to put a quarter in the can.
Trying to inject some reality into the picture, the Times piece notes brand nicknames that have stuck – and worked – such as Coke, FedEx, and KFC. The best analogy, though, is what happened at ESPN 2. When the emergency backup sports network first hit cable, ESPN anchors started calling it The Deuce, which the Brainiacs in Bristol said reduced brand awareness, so they had a “cuss jar” too.
Of course, The Deuce became its own brand, which the Einsteins at ESPN belatedly realized.
This Just In: GM has – not surprisingly – shifted into reverse, according to the Wheels blog at the Times:
No more Chevy? News of the phase-out spread quickly, and the hundreds of comments to Wheels revealed an emotional connection to the Chevy name. The overwhelming response prompted G.M. to issue a formal news statement on the change, one in which the company uses the word Chevy. Twice.
Here is the statement in full:
Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet. It is a passion we share and one we do not take for granted.
We love Chevy. In no way are we discouraging customers or fans from using the name. We deeply appreciate the emotional connections that millions of people have for Chevrolet and its products.
In global markets, we are establishing a significant presence for Chevrolet and need to move toward a consistent brand name for advertising and marketing purposes. The memo in question was one step in that process.
We hope people around the world will continue to fall in love with Chevrolets and smile when they call their favorite car, truck or crossover “Chevy.”
Here endeth the lesson.