This is the colossal story of brand that went totally wrong of reasons that cannot be predicted or forecasted or controlled.
As per the news reports Tata Motors’ new car launch that was in plan for more than two years was an acronym from “Zippy Car” and it was creatively named Zica. All the communication that were being done for this new car were based on Zica. Zica was showcased in the auto expo 2016 and was getting launched with all the dealers across India getting ready to take orders.
Unfortunately during the start of 2016 widespread outbreak of Zika virus was reported in the Americas starting from Brazil and then spreading to other South America, Central America, Mexico and Caribbean countries. Zika virus infection results in Zika fever that is minor illness and causes fever and rashes but there has been some correlation established newborn with microcephaly due to pregnant mother to child transmission of this virus. Microcephaly is a condition where baby’s head is much smaller than normally expected. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. WHO declared this Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Zika virus gained lot of press coverage and there were TV footages of infants suffering from Microcephaly which creates a very negative image on that name.
Tata Motors Branding Team would have never thought this in their nightmare that something like this would pop up. Unfortunately if someone of the team would have googled and probably they may have found that there is seems to be cousin called Zika which is a virus isolated in 1947 in a Rhesus monkey in a forest near Entebbe, Uganda and there has been only 14 documented Zika virus human cases until this outbreak. Even if there was one soul in the team who may have pointed to this, which I really doubt, but with everyone agreeing to the name that person’s idea would have been shot down for sure.
I think one learning that any new branding effort is to make sure that atleast the name is searched globally for any viruses or diseases or any sort of that negative stuff. I guess there is nice small product idea that checks the databases and brings out any warnings or signals that may save situations like these. Probably there is one database like that already but I am not aware as of now so anyone who knows such a product can please comment. Otherwise there is an opportunity for a product to be made.
Tata Motors would have saved millions if someone would have warned them and probably they have named it Zippy or Tiago which is going to be the name now.
Zika has affected Tata Motors like the same way it is affecting the kids fortunately Tata Motor could change the name and limit the damage but the kids affected by Microcephaly may not have that chance.