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Thursday, June 24,2010

Chevrolet crashes Chevy

By Jim Hightower
Good news, people.

General Motors has turned a profit! However, there’s bad news, too: GM’s top executives are insane. By which I mean bonkers, loopy, bull-goose crazy.

How else to explain the carmaker’s recent effort to rebrand “Chevy,” one of the most iconic brand names ever to come out of America? A June memo, floated down from the executive suite of corporate headquarters in Detroit, directed all employees to henceforth stop saying “Chevy.” Instead, decreed two vice presidents who signed the astonishing document, “We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward.”

Holy Don McLean! He’s the fine singer and songwriter who penned the classic refrain “Bye-bye Miss American Pie / I drove my Chevy to the levee / But the levee was dry.” Excuse us, Mr. vice presidents, but it’s suicidal corporate goofiness to mess with a brand that is so positively ingrained in American culture.

Well, say the two veeps, it’s a matter of marketing consistency. As their memo explains, “The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.” Yoo-hoo, boneheads, a foolish consistency has been defined as the “hobgoblin of little minds.” You don’t get more recognizable than “Chevy,” so why would you stomp on your own success?

Because, as it turns out, GM’s Chevrolet division recently switched advertising agencies, and — to rationalize their fat fees — these geniuses produced this silliness. Not only are GM executives going along with it, but they’re enforcing the name change internally by fining employees a quarter every time they say “Chevy” rather than Chevrolet.

We bailed out GM, and this is the best the new honchos can do?

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit
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