Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chevy vs Chevrolet Branding Hoax

The Real Question
Are the marketing folks at Chevrolet, (don’t call us Chevy), brilliant or just thrashing around like Homer Simpson in the backyard wading pool?

The Scenario
A memo signed by both Alan Batey, the VP for Chevrolet Sales and Jim Campbell the VP for Chevrolet Marketing addressed to corporate staff apparently instructed corporate staff to expunge the word “Chevy” from their lexicon. They would be punished by paying 25 cents to the sin bucket every time they used the banned word “Chevy”. Instead they were ordered to substitute the word “Chevrolet” in all discussions with other staff, supplier, dealers, media and family. I wonder who got the money.

The explanation for this dogmatic command was that Chevy (Oops I mean Chevrolet) needed to be consistent to build a stronger brand.

This is an excerpt from that memo.

“Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.”

Possible Brilliance?
Maybe the marketers at Chevrolet are attempting to create a New Coke reaction. When Coke announced the New Coke there was an unexpected and overwhelming response of “Hell no – don’t you dare change our Coke”.

The marketing geniuses and Sergio Zyman, Chief Marketing Officer, at Coke were blindsided. They had created the New Coke based on their extensive marketing research. Then they discovered that they were wrong and customers wanted the old Coke. Coke was smart enough to introduce the old Coke as Coke Classic and retain their market.

Are the marketers at GM/Chevrolet so smart, confident and so devious that they pretended to be stupid and stumble just to ignite a firestorm of protest?

There is no question that this particular boondoggle has generated a viral storm of blog posts, discussions and activity across the Internet. If that was the purpose – then it was a bold and brilliant move. Did GM send that memo hoping that some employee would send it to a major media player?

The formula that Coke inadvertently used is “Annoy your best customers and pray that they will protest instead of walking away.”

It takes greatness to be smart yet play dumb for the sake of your brand.

Were the executives at Chevorlet that brilliant? Where they just reading The Art of War or The Prince?

I don’t believe that they are that bold or prescient.

George Torok

Read more Articles on Marketing by George Torok


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