Tata Motors has announced it will rebrand its forthcoming Zica hatchback car in light of the global alarm around the spreading of the notorious Zika virus.
The company, which has already put significant resources into marketing and promoting its new car, released a statement saying the name Zica will be changed for something as yet undecided.
The name Zica, Tata said, was derived as an acronym of "zippy car".
Tata Motors has sought to avoid any association – despite the different spelling – with the fast-spreading Zika virus, which has caused huge panic in recent weeks because it is thought to be linked to severe birth defects.
"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," the statement says.
Any rebrand is likely to be costly, as Tata had already launched a huge marketing push around the Zica, with a new campaign featuring superstar footballer Lionel Messi, before the Zika virus hit the headlines.
The rebrand will also come too late for the Auto Expo 2016 in New Delhi, a huge car exhibition at which Tata Motors is launching the Zica.
"While it carries the ‘Zica’ label for the duration of the event, the new name will be announced after a few weeks, ensuring all necessary consumer/branding and regulatory aspects are addressed, and the [rebranded] launch will take place thereafter," the Tata Motors statement says.
Madan Bahal, co-founder and managing director of Adfactors, said: "I think any smart marketeer should be alive and responsive to unexpected happenings in the environment.
"Tata Motors’ decision to change the brand name of the proposed car is a logical step."