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27 Feb 2016

Case Studies: Forced Re-branding in pharmaceuticals due to unfortunate connotations

Tata Motor force to change the brand name Zica.

The Indian carmaker Tata Motors has decided to change the name of its heavily promoted new car, the Zica, to avoid association with alarm about the spread of the Zika virus.

Tata announced it would choose a new name TIAGO for the car. The change comes too late for the launch of the car at the Auto Expo in New Delhi on Wednesday, where it will still carry the Zica label. Tata had chosen the name as an abbreviation of “zippy car”.

But the explosive spread of the Zika virus, which has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, posed an awkward homophone problem for Tata’s marketing team. The scale of the spread of the Zika virus only became apparent after Tata launched a big marketing campaign for the Zica, including adverts featuring footage of footballer Lionel Messi.

Ayds forced rebranding in 1970

Tata isn’t the first company to say bye-bye to a brand name because it has developed unfortunate connotations. In the 1970s a popular brand of appetite-suppressing caramels called Ayds advertised itself with slogans such as “Ayds helps you lose weight”. You’ll probably guess what that happened next: Aids. The company resisted a name change for years but plummeting sales eventually forced a rebrand. Ayds became Diet Ayds (Aydslim in the UK).

Corporates Moves Aaway from ISIS naming

Diseases aren’t the only things to have killed off brands. Many corporate companies moves away from Isis naming once it was clear that Isis represented a long-term crisis.

  • US mobile wallet platform Isis became Softcard
  • Isis Equity Partners became Living Bridge
  • Isis Chocolates became Libeert.

Isis Pharmaceuticals, a billion-dollar business with the ticker name ISIS, resisted a name change for longer than many other major Isis-named brands. In 2014 the company’s CEO, Stanley Crooke, resisted the change corporate name.” I mean, fair enough, it was a successful pharma company run by a guy called Crooke; he was probably justified in thinking investors weren’t overly worried by nomenclature. Nevertheless, the terrorists eventually won.

After the Paris attacks the company’s stock dropped 4% and it changed its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals. One hopes there isn’t an “Islamic Organisation in Northern Iraq and Syria” in the workings.

Naming-nomenclature is indeed a vital what a strategic management team and product management team works by spending a lot of time. Analyzing and scrutinizing each and every name in depth from every aspects need to be carried out. Due to re-branding sales can be afected. One thing should be kept in mind that brand name development and promotion cost huge. Already old brand name associated with the user mind. So, when faced with unfortunate branding, companies weigh the risks and tend to only change their name if there is a serious business case for it.

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