January 25, 2022

Omicron, Delta and the Institutions That Share Their Names

At first, the company doubled down. “Let the disease change its name,” a spokesperson for Ayds told Advertising Age in 1986. But by 1988, its chairman told The New York Times that sales of Ayds had fallen by more than 50 percent.

Hurricane Katrina had a similar impact on the popularity of the storm’s namesake. Following the 2005 storm, the number of Social Security card applications for babies named Katrina dropped precipitously, according to government data.

And the CBC reported in September that some people who share a first name with Osama bin Laden are still feeling the personal repercussions 20 years after 9/11.

In the case of Omicron, some are meeting the naming overlap with benign curiosity or humor.

Tara Singer, the president and chief executive of the Omicron Delta Kappa honors society said that she wasn’t concerned about the public relations impact of the Omicron variant on her organization. “Delta Air Lines weathered this well, so we will, too,” she said in a phone interview.

Delta Air Lines is recovering from a serious, pandemic-induced decline in business (as is the airline industry in general). Still, the Delta variant was a tricky subject at the company. A spokesperson for Delta told The Times that, internally, employees often refer to “the variant” rather than invoking the company name.

The airline also responded with a bit of humor. Henry Ting, the company’s chief health officer, wrote on Twitter: “We prefer to call it the B.1.617.2 variant since that is so much more simple to say and remember.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/style/delta-omicron-variant-greek-names.html

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