While the deadly Zika virus is spreading fast and wreaking havoc across 20 mostly Latin American countries, India’s Tata Motors has just built the newest of its low-budget cars, the Zica. What a coincidence!
The similarity between the Indian company’s new car model’s name and the virus has made Tata consider re-naming the car only weeks after they launched a massive marketing campaign for their new ride in the market.
The heavily promoted Zica, which was intended to be short for “zippy car”, could now have unavoidable connotations with a deadly virus that has been associated with serious birth abnormalities and neurological defects.
The rethinking of the name branding comes only weeks after Tata Motors kicked off a major marketing campaign for the Zica car, including ads featuring footage of Barcelona’s Argentina soccer superstar Lionel Messi.
The timing of this marketing couldn’t be worse for the Indian car giant as the World Health Organization is set to hold a meeting to decide on whether to declare the Zika virus a worldwide health emergency. Doctors in Brazil have linked the deadly virus, which is thought to be transmitted by mosquitoes, to thousands of incidences of Microcephaly. This is a birth defect that causes abnormally-small heads in newborn babies.
According to the head of corporate communications at Tata Motors, Minari Shah, although the decision to name Zica was arrived at several months before the outbreak of the virus, a rebranding of the car has been seriously considered. Shah fell short of announcing the timeframe for the rebranding.
It would be very injurious to Tata Motors’ business model if consumers did actually associate the Zica with the deadly virus.
Image source: http://www.tatamotors.com/