Ayds, Not AIDS

Dividends The quandary could be a case study at the Harvard Business School. The problem: a deadly disease breaks out that has a name that sounds the same as that of a well-known diet product. Question: What should the marketer do to avoid possible confusion?

Jeffrey Martin Inc., the distributor of Ayds appetite-suppressant candy, has faced just this issue since AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, began getting public attention in mid-1981. Jeffrey Martin acquired the Ayds marketing rights from Purex at about the time of the first report of AIDS.

Sales of the diet candy had been sluggish for years when Jeffrey...