Jun 25, 2011

Chevy Nova in the land of myth and funny

Anyone who has ever taken a marketing class has most likely been told the tale of woe suffered by Chevrolet in the 70's because of their "Nova" small car.  I distinctly remember the professor in my econ class cautioning us that we must be diligent in our research before coming up with global product names.

Why the hubbub? Well, the story goes that in Spanish-speaking countries, the car wouldn't sell because it was called the "Nova" (translated literally to "No Go" or "Doesn't Go.").  Even I very recently relayed the tale to my son.  Of course, afterward, I decided to check the story out for myself.  Lo! and Behold! the whole thing is a myth.

I think Snopes.com has one of the best explanations: It would be akin to someone opening a restaurant called "Notable" and English-speaking people not eating there be they had "No Table" upon which to eat.  (For the record, I think if someone DID name a table-less eatery "NoTable," that would be a wonderful play on words!)

"Nova" happens to also be (or have been) the name of a gasoline company in Mexico.

This is one of the reasons I love the Information Age.  Prior to having a worldwide brain-dump, we were simply expected to believe our professors BECAUSE they were professors.  THEY were supposed to be the experts.  In the past two days, I have taken part in discussions which resulted extensive research to get more information behind the topic being discussed.  Of course, I was generally not one to take things at face value in college, but for some reason, the story of the Nova rang true to me and stuck with me ever since.

Some people say Google is making us dumber.  I disagree.  I think we need to be teaching critical thinking skills in school.  We need to teach our children how to find relevant information and to QUESTION EVERYTHING.  What are the sources of the information?  Where did THEY get their information?  What is being said in support of it?  What is being said to refute it?  What conclusions can they draw on their own, based on what they found?  They need to be taught how to ask questions - to not be afraid to ask questions.  They need to be allowed to make mistakes, to be wrong, and to admit when they were wrong and WHY (that is, what made them wrong and how did they come to the conclusion that they were incorrect). 

So, here I am, saying, "I was wrong about the whole 'Nova' thing.  I had bad info and took it at its word. I've since been corrected, and now you have too."

(info: http://www.snopes.com/business/misxlate/nova.asp)

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