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From Zica to Tiago

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Just three weeks away from when Tata Motor’s new car, Zica, would be available for purchase, the World Health Organisation declared the Zika virus a global emergency. As the world’s press covered this viral emergency, Maxus quickly realised the problem it was now facing. While India wasn’t affected by the virus itself, it was clear that the public would associate Zika, the virus, with Zica, the new car.  

The implications were potentially cataclysmic, any brand campaign the agency did now could be seen as totally insensitive to the global crisis. So, Tata Motors was looking at the prospect of losing at least $82m invested in R&D, production & marketing, and a damaged reputation as a leading company which would impact all its brands. After all, who was going to buy a car named after a virus!?   

Faced with this nightmare scenario, instead of shrinking into the shadows – Maxus worked with Tata to meet this challenge head on. The task was to help Tata Motors salvage the situation by doing a rebranding exercise of Zica, without changing the product or proposition. 

Just three weeks until launch date, it had to address three core challenges: 
What to re-name the car? 
How to ensure that consumers understand the name change? 
Ensure the car was associated with the new name and not the Zika virus. 


The agency leapt into action and in just a few days, created a three-stage approach: 

1) Accept the problem honestly - it had to communicate, quickly, to all prospective consumers that it had to walk away from the original Zica name. The story is totally remarkable and Maxus knew it would receive interest from press and customers alike. 

2) Start building a new relationship with consumers – It harnessed the insight: ‘We remain emotionally connected with things that we create’ to craft a campaign called “Fantastico Name Hunt”. By allowing consumers to choose the new name of the car, it would begin the process of quickly re-branding it within their minds and based on their choice.    

3) Maintain the momentum - It had a lot of people to message and not a lot of time to do it. So, Maxus designed a fully-integrated strategy, ensuring all those who were exposed to the campaign, would be re-targeted to ensure maximum participation throughout the intense two-week period. 


How did it go about hitting each of these strategic markers? 

1) Accept the problem honestly – The agency distributed multi-media and press announcements saying that, given the state of the virus, it would be insensitive to those affected to continue with the original name of the car. This was picked up swiftly, with the news breaking across global press networks. 

2) Start building new relationships with consumers - Maxus created videos explaining the Name Hunt, which included more detailed information on the car, and invited consumers from 22 different markets to become decision makers in this rebranding exercise. 

The videos were sent out across all social and broadcast channels, receiving an incredible 13 million views in just three days! It knew the strategy was working and participating consumers were really starting to feel a connection with the car. 

Multiple participation mechanisms were created – you could suggest a name by commenting on the video, by tweeting, through a dedicated website or by simply sending an SMS. An incredible 37,000 new names were suggested. The agency shortlisted the best three and then the power was handed back. The public was given voting power for the final result and Tiago was chosen. 

3) Retargeted - Throughout all of this process, consumers were smartly retargeted to ensure, if they saw the videos, they were aware of all the possible opportunities to contribute. 


In just three days it reached 48 million people across 22 target markets. 640,000 engaged and 37,000 names were submitted – garnering $410,000 of earned media coverage along the way. Google searches for ‘Zica’ totally dropped and ‘Tiago’ surged, showing that consumers were on board with the change. 

But most importantly, the campaign was a success for the client. Maxus' job as its media agency partner was to get people into the car and within four months of the Tiago’s launch, it received more than 120,000 test drive requests - an astonishing three times' more than any Tata car launch in the last decade!  

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