Posted by: David Welch on June 11, 2010
There’s corporate silliness. And then there’s what happened at Chevy, er, Chevrolet this week. Chevrolet sales vice president Alan Batey and marketing vice president Jim Campbell sent a memo to employees asking that they talk about the brand as Chevrolet, not its shortened nickname Chevy, according to a New York Times report. They want the brand to be consistent, especially since General Motors is trying to push Chevrolet in global markets where some people may not know it as Chevy. The story took on a life of its own, with some observers thinking that Chevrolet way trying to ban the use of the nickname “Chevy.”
GM has since backed away from that internal memo saying that Chevy is the brand’s beloved nickname. “We’re proud of it,” Batey said in a phone interview. “It’s great.” He said GM’s global colleagues were looking for clarity on the brand. Here in the U.S., people can call it Chevy. But around the globe, Batey wants to see it consistently called Chevrolet over time.
This all seems like much ado about nothing. Even if GM wanted to ditch the Chevy nickname, Americans won’t care. They will call it Chevy just as they have for decades. The fact is, GM may legally own its brand names, but the company doesn’t own the Chevrolet or Chevy names in the popular imagination. Not here, not overseas. The brand’s customers and fans do. If Chevy or Chevrolet buyers in China or the U.S. or Russia want to call it Chevy, let them do it. So long as they are happy with their cars, GM shouldn’t care. Given the fact that GM is trying to rejuvenate interest in its brands—especially Chevrolet, which is 72% of its U.S. sales this year—the company should be happy that consumers care enough to give the brand a nickname. The message ought to be, “call us whatever you want, just call us.”