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When Chevrolet Took Chevy To The Levee - And Left It There
Chevrolet's nickname, Chevy, is better known in American culture than Chevrolet itself. Don McLean sang about his Chevy in the iconic hit, American Pie - and he's not the only one. Over the years, Bob Seger, Motley Crue, Taylor Swift and even Elton John have featured Chevy - not Chevrolet - in their songs. The Beach Boys' hit song, "409" was an ode to the 1957 Chevy.
Over the past several decades, as the brand became more entrenched in American identity, the car company's longtime advertising agency purposefully promoted the image of Chevy as the ultimate embodiment of America. That agency had successfully tagged Chevy as "the heartbeat of America," but in April 2010, they were dismissed. After a few months of rotating advertising agencies, a new one took over Chevrolet's account.
So what happened? A memo, issued internally in June 2010, cited concerns about consistency. Specifically, Chevrolet leadership, on the advice of this agency, wanted to consolidate the brand's identity and prominence in the hopes of creating an even greater, stronger, market presence. The hope was it would be more recognizable to consumers both within the United States and internationally. Employees were told in the now infamous memo that, "the more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer."
Chevrolet leadership referenced Coca-Cola and Apple as examples of excellence in consistency in brand identity. Chevrolet even went so far as to tell employees that there would be a "swear jar", ready to collect a quarter every time an employee slipped up and said "Chevy" instead of "Chevrolet." The proceeds of which were to fund some sort of team building event in the future.
Despite no reports on the effectiveness of the Chevy swear jar, there are still several Chevrolet advertisements on television. Many still make reference to Chevy, in addition to Chevrolet. Chevrolet has either decided to change advertising and re-branding tactics, or has opted for a slow adoption of Chevrolet as a standalone brand identity in their marketing materials.