The automotive media had a field day this week with an internal memo that had been sent to Chevrolet employees in Detroit. The contents of the message stressed that the word ‘Chevy’ was no longer to be used in any official communications regarding the brand, as it was causing too much confusion and diluting the Chevrolet image.
Naturally, the idea that a corporation could put the Chevy genie back in the bottle after 50 years of advertising and car culture had made the word as American as apple pie seemed ridiculous – and precisely the type of move that an out-of-touch corporate giant would blunder into. While this particular mis-step certainly made it look like few things had changed at General Motors since the recent bankruptcy reorganization, the opposite is in fact true. GM has come a long way in terms of redefining its image, re-staking its claim on the North American market and shoring up its financial performance over the past 10 months.
So much press was generated from the leaked internal memo that GM was forced to issue its own statement claiming that the wording had not been properly thought through, and that of course it would not discourage the public at large from continuing to use the word Chevy in the discussion of its products. With regards to ‘wording,’ the most amusing part of the memo was the example given of Coke employing a similar singular corporate brand focus, ignoring the fact that the proper name for the manufacturer of the carbonated beverage is Coca-Cola, and that it has maintained dual brand identities for decades.
Regardless of the GM’s clarified position, internally Chevrolet will henceforth be referred to exclusively as ‘Chevrolet’– at least until the brand selects yet another advertising agency to take over its account, as GM has had little success in maintaining a long-term relationship with its Chevrolet campaign designers of late. If the company continues to make moves like this, then perhaps it won’t need any external PR at all – as Oscar Wilde once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.