“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” These are the famous lines from William Shakespeare’s popular novel Romeo and Juliet. However, not all will agree to Shakespeare quote now, specially during the pandemic times. 

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the new COVID-19 variant as Omicron, little did it know that someone, somewhere may be paying a price for it. The Omicron name is posing a marketing challenge to some businesses. Sounds odd, but true. 

WHO has been using Greek letters to refer to the most widely prevalent COVID-19 variants, which otherwise carry long scientific names. The world health body has already used 12 letters of the Greek alphabet before the newest variant emerged in South Africa.

How Omicron is posing a marketing challenge

The New York Times reports how the name Omicron has affected an electrical manufacturer in Mumbai. Harshil Shah, the Director of Omicron Sensing says that before the variant emerged, his company would feature on the first page of the search engine. Now its website is buried under scores of pages related to Omicron news and hence the organisations now is grappling with marketing strategies.

And this is not just an isolated case. Omicron Energy, founded over 30 years ago in a small town in Austria, that sells testing equipment for electrical systems faces a similar problem. The company was named Omicron because its founder, Rainer Aberer, thought Greek letters evoked technical expertise and mathematics. 

From a small group to now an international company with 24 offices worldwide and customers in over 160 countries, Omicron Energy now has a statement written on its website, “There is nothing we can do about this hopefully shortlived connotation.”

The Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity which shares a name with two COVID-19 variants, said in a statement that its members were ‘bemused at the coincidence’. However, they expect nothing will change or affect their business.

Omicron Delta Kappa, also known as The Circle and ODK, is one of the most prestigious national honour societies in the United States. It has the names of three COVID-19 variants. Tara S Singer, President and CEO of the honour society says she wasn’t concerned about the public relations effect on her organisation.

Delta Air Lines is recovering from a serious, pandemic-induced decline in business. However, they are taking the similarity in names with a pinch of salt. Henry Ting, the company’s chief health officer tweeted, “We prefer to call it the B.1.617.2 variant since that is so much more simple to say and remember.”



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