Will Tata rename its newest child?

Tata Zica Image courtesy: tatamotors.com

What do you do when the new product that you’ve just launched and spent tons of money on, marketing, is declared a public health emergency? Well, technically, it’s not the product itself, but a killer virus that is unfortunately, a namesake. Even Tata will find this one tough to address.

The World Health Organization has confirmed the rapidly spreading Zika virus to be a public health emergency. The virus, which is now rampant in several countries in central and south America is known to cause serious damages to fetuses, and in some instances, also in adults it infects. While there are growing concerns about how to conrtol the spread of the disease, agencies will acitively initiate awareness campaigns to educate populations across countries. The immediate association of the term Zika would be with nothing but the deadly virus.

All this has been very unfortunate timing for Tata motors, who are gearing up to launch their new hatchback offering, Zica. Tata apparently named the car Zica intending to position it as a ‘zippy car’ for city commutes. The model will take on other hatches such as Honda Brio and Huyndai i10, and has very sporty styling, compared to the current Tata offerings. The car will be featured at the Auto Expo at New Delhi, and will be available to customers soon after.

Tata has also put a lot of marketing muscle behind the Zica, roping in football great Lionel Messi for the advertisments. So on one hand we have Tata telling us about how cool Zica is, while on the other hand, it will be WHO warning us about how to protect ourselves from Zika. Although the spellings do differ, the brand association could certainly be damaging for the Tatas. It certainly is no surprise that they may be considering rebranding then. Since they have already put out a few campaigns, it might make sense for Tata to go ahead with a launch as planned, and then go back to change branding if need be.

The Zica was earlier codenamed Kite, pre-release. Maybe it won’t be a bad idea to let it fly high with that name after all!

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