Zica has a run-in with Zika: Tata car name spells trouble

  • Gulshankumar Wankar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 02, 2016 14:36 IST
Tata Motors’ latest hatchback Zica has ran into a homphone hell after Zika virus is spreading across the world. (Tata Motors)

Zica, the latest hatchback from Tata Motors’, has caught a bug. The car’s name resembles ‘Zika’, the virus suspected of causing a surge in serious birth defects in South America, and may sound embarrassing just as it was to be launched at the Delhi Auto Expo.

It’s been over two months when the first teaser of Tata Zica was released. Then the trial runs for media took place in Goa and the car’s design got good reviews. Zica was promoted as a ‘Zippy Car’ and FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi was roped in as its brand ambassador.

But things turned a little dark in January when the Zika virus from a Ugandan forest started making headlines all around the world. And last week when the World Health Organization (WHO) chief warned that Zika virus is “spreading explosively” across the world, top managers from Tata Motors’ Pune, New Delhi and Mumbai offices huddled to discuss “What to do now?”, according to a report in the Guardian.

Minari Shah, Tata’s head of corporate communications, said a new name for the hatchback car was being considered, the report said.

Read | WHO may declare Zika epidemic a global health emergency

“The decision to name our car happened many months back when we could not have foreseen any of the recent events. Zica stands for zippy car. In view of the recent developments, we are now evaluating the situation. We do not currently have a time frame about when we will announce the decision,” she was quoted as saying in the Guardian report.

With just 48 hours for the Delhi Auto Expo to kick in, will Tata Motors think of a new name? Or will they stick to their brand image and let the car speak for itself?

“We are evaluating the whole situation. No decision has been made yet,” a Tata Motors spokesperson said.

On its website, Tata Zica is meant to help “one leave all worries miles behind without her/him even knowing it…” But you definitely be worried while telling your peers “Hey guys! I’ve got Zica!”

The homophone is worrying.

Read | Tata Zica revealed: Looks like a cool car, we like it

There have been naming disasters before both in India and overseas. Skoda Laura meant a penis, Mitsubishi’s Pajero meant a wanker in Spanish or the General Motors’ Nova was Spanish for “It doesn’t go”. But only few like the Hyundai Creta (which in urban dictionary is defined as woman’s external genitals) have managed to not let the name affect the sales of the car.

Tatas need to think, and think fast. For, if they stick to it, the car must perform like Creta… and if not, Tata knows it better, you cannot make a success by resaling a car like Indica by renaming it Bolt.

William Shakespeare once famously asked “What’s in a name?” Here may lie your answer.

Read | Branded disasters: Creta to Pajero, how cars got a bad name

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