What’s in a nickname?

Department of Tempests & Teapots:

An internal memo asking General Motors employees to refer to Chevrolet vehicles as Chevrolets and not Chevys has caused quite a stir. Perhaps not much else is going on in the world.

When word got out about the memo, a hue and cry arose throughout the blogosphere. What, detractors cried, is wrong with the nickname “Chevy”? Songwriter Don McLean even helped memorialize it in his “American Pie” with the chorus “Took my Chevy to the levee … ”

The geniuses at GM did a quick about-face, bowing humbly as they backed away and saying they were just trying for some consistency in their marketing.

Advertising Age even did a quickie poll to see what the public thought about the original memo. It then reported that “a crushing 96% of poll respondents said the shift is the wrong move for Chevrolet and for GM.” Note that AdAge used a percentage rather than an actual number of respondents, not surprising since it is a very niche publication/website with little mass readership.

Is there really any danger to an automaker of having its vehicles known more by a nickname than the full name?

Ask the people who used to have jobs making cars widely known as Merc (Mercury), Olds (Oldsmobile), AMC (American Motors), Stude (Studebaker), Duese (Duesenberg),  Oakie (Oakland), Cuda (Plymouth Barracuda), Willys (Willys Overland) …

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About Bill Dowd

Webmaster/social media coordinator for the Southern Rensselaer County NY Rotary Club.

Posted on June 11, 2010, in Business, Language. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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