Zika Virus Hits Tata Motors

The spread of Zika virus that has been making international headlines for the past few weeks has finally claimed its first automotive casualty over at Tata. The Indian carmaker has decided to change the name of its heavily promoted newest addition, which was to be called the Zica, to avoid the homophone problem of sounding the same as the deadly virus and thus any negative jokes that would undoubtedly pursue it.

The news from Tata came just a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Zika to be a global emergency. As of yet, there is no update on what the new name may be. The change comes too late for the launch of the car at the New Delhi Auto Expo that is just around the corner, and thus it will still be called the Zica at the event, although they do have the option to revert to Zippy Car, which is where they allegedly got the Zica name from in the first place.

Tata had been betting the kitchen sink on the launch of the Zica, and had already launched a very high level marketing campaign with Lionel Messi, the Barcelona and Argentinian footballer. But the awkward homophone problem only became apparent after news of the explosive spread of the Zika virus, which is linked to microcephaly in newborns, became known.

In a statement announcing the rebranding, Tata said: “Empathising with the hardships being caused by the recent Zika virus outbreak across many countries, Tata Motors, as a socially responsible company, has decided to rebrand the car.”

It added: “The Company is determined to place it in the market addressing all relevant needs of the target audience.”

The Zika virus was first identified in the Zika Forest in Uganda and is carried by the Aedes mosquito. To date, the virus has spread across the Americas and is now in more than 20 countries. Whilst Zika is not in India yet, the Aedes mosquito and the related virus Dengue is, so there are obvious concerns about its future spread.

image sources: TATA

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