Ben Franklin, Schwarzenegger & Cocaine Praised for Chevy’s Hybrid / EV Lineup

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Man with tie on head in room with painting of Ben Franklin, TV shows Mr. Freeze from Batman, pile of cocaine on table

The process of naming a vehicle, or family of vehicles, will always differ based on the philosophy of the automaker. Economy automakers might aim to evoke a sense of grand adventure or scale to generate excitement about their offerings. Elitist performance brands might prefer an alphanumeric approach, asserting their newest models is the latest and greatest in their lineage of excellence. That said, there may be no example of vehicle naming more on the nose than Chevy…at least when speaking of their specialized hybrid and EV offerings.

The phrase “on the nose” is defined primarily as being precisely correct, without any error. That said, the evolution of language has added a secondary meaning used to describe any kind of dialog or narrative so clumsily direct that it leaves no room for subtext. And according to a recent poll of young professionals in the marketing field (conducted by the University of Ohio-Boston) Chevy has been found guilty on all counts when it comes to the latter definition.

So where did Chevy’s naming strategy originate from? Determined to find the answer, we at THE LEMON put on our investigative caps (actual Deerstalker caps, in case you were wondering) and set out to locate the individual (or individuals) responsible for these oft-criticized monikers.

Meet Bruce Cormack, a GM intern who (unknown to his superiors) was actually the stepson of Stephen Cormack, General Motors’ VP of Career Advancement Opportunities. According to one of Bruce’s peers, who requested anonymity, interns within the marketing department were tasked with participation in a Naming Think-Tank. The goal was to ensure that new offerings in sustainable vehicles mirrored the evolving sensibility of the millennial, Gen-Y and Z consumers.

As explained by our contact, “Younger consumers don’t want to be sold to, we want to be courted with minimalist brand identity. And while the appeal of a clever marketing campaign isn’t lost on us, we prefer a sense of directness, composed primarily of substance. As the first generation fully-immersed in technology, we are the product of Apple-brand packaging. We’ll let the forty-somethings enjoy their bloated, wordy Microsoft-style branding complete with excessive fonts and disclaimers. We’ll take the less-is-more approach.”

And it’s that approach which compelled Cormack to offer up both “Volt” and “Bolt” as suggestions. While both were well-received, considered inspired choices in terms of peer sensibility, were they too on-the-nose? And more importantly, where did they come from?

We sat down with Bruce Cormack, who graciously offered to elaborate on his process.

“Cocaine,” he explained, in a frantic tone. “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit-tons of cocaine. Enough Bolivian Marching Powder to cripple a f*cking peasant uprising. There I was, party-rocking in my apartment when I start spit-balling f*cking ideas about electricity. And who invented electricity? Benjamin F*cking Franklin! Shiiiiiiiiiiit, He invented it with a f*cking KITE! So, my synapses start firing. Pop! Pop! Pop! I start making f*cking connections! Axons! Dendrites! Fallout Boy! Uma Thurman! That’s when I decided to find ‘Batman & Robin’ On-Demand, because…let’s be honest…it’s pretty much the best f*cking Batman movie ever made! Then…yup…Mr. f*cking Freeze!”

Unlike Bruce Cormack, we know that 1997’s Batman & Robin was NOT, in fact, “the best Batman movie ever made”. Unfortunately, in Bruce Cormack’s cocaine-fueled crusade, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the villainous Mr. Freeze sounded far more clever than it was. Universally criticized for uttering cliche dialog, some memorable lines included:

“Talk about a cold shoulder.”

“Stay Cool”

“Alright everyone! Chill!!”

And of course, “Let’s kick some ice!”

According to Cormack, however, it inspired him to strive for simplicity in the naming process. “Why overthink it? Why not keep it simple?”

And simple it was…so if you’re looking for a vehicle powered fully, or partially by electricity, why not try the Chevy Bolt or Volt? And if you’re looking to take over Gotham City with a freeze gun, just chill…

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