From Zica to Tiago: how Tata Motors turned around a brand crisis

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 03, 2016


A dealer’s suggestion to crowd-source name for its new hatchback became a marketing success, too

Premanand R Shenoy is nothing short of a celebrity for Tata Motors these days. After all, it was he, a dealer for the company in Bengaluru, who suggested that Tata crowd-source the name for its soon-to-be-launched hatchback.

Christened ‘Zica’ last November and set for launch by March-end, the model faced a brand crisis after the outbreak of the deadly Zika virus in January. With only two months to go for the hatchback’s rollout, Tata had to come up with a new name real quick.

Crowd-sourcing was not even on the table until Shenoy brought it up in the first week of February during a conversation with the company management. “We thought that was a cool way to have our well-wishers join us on an innovative, fun journey to find the most appropriate new name. It was a contemporary way to find a name for what’s being seen as a contemporary car,” said Tata Motors’ spokesperson, Minari Shah.

Soon, Tata Motors opened up the crowd-sourcing contest — #Fantastico Name Hunt — to netizens globally, with accompanying videos explaining the car’s characteristics.

It got more than 4.8 crore impressions through Facebook, 2.2 lakh engagements on Twitter and 1.2 crore video views. These accounted for over 37,000 proposals generating over 5,500 unique names, including Pihu, Spry, Afford, Diamond, Zeest, Zeus, Tacar, Supero and Excitica. “The challenge of the process was the sheer scale of it, given that we were reaching out to netizens globally, and yet it had to be done really fast,” said Shah. The name would have to be 5-6 letters long. After eliminating the duplications, a team of 10 went through the names to understand which could capture the characteristics of the car.

They created a list of 25 names each, from which the company had to identify words that are not inappropriate in major languages. Tata Motors also hired a global agency to carry out linguistic checks.

Three names — Civet, Tiago and Adore — made it to the final shortlist. These were then put to vote on the social media. “No brand wants to start off with a wrong name, and here Tata Motors has converted a probable problem area into an opportunity before it turned into a crisis. This is probably the first time a car manufacturer in India opted for crowd-sourcing to name a new product, even though the idea is not new,” said N Chandramouli, CEO at brand intelligence firm TRA. Later, in February, Tata rechristened the hatchback Tiago.

And that’s how a hatchback got its name.

Published on March 03, 2016
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