Business / Corporate

Honda apologizes after dealership mocks rival Nissan on Twitter over Ghosn scandal

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

A prominent Nissan marketing catchphrase was turned on its head after a rogue Honda dealership took aim at the rival automaker on Twitter over the arrest of Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, forcing Honda to apologize Tuesday.

Honda Motor Co. apologized a day after the official Twitter account of one of its dealerships mocked Ghosn’s impending arrest over financial misconduct allegations.

“We believe that we have made everyone who saw our tweet feel uncomfortable and we are deeply sorry for that,” Hajime Kaneko, a spokesman for Honda Motor Co. told The Japan Times by phone, confirming the authenticity of the questionable tweet.

As news about Ghosn’s alleged misconduct dominated the headlines Monday evening, the account of Honda Cars Osaka Higashi tweeted a photo of Ghosn with a comment that appeared to spoof a catchphrase used in a series of Nissan commercials featuring Japanese rock superstar Eikichi Yazawa in 2015.

“So you did it, Nissan, Carlos Ghosn has been arrested!” (Yatta ze Nissan Carlos Ghosn taihō!) the tweet said.

Honda’s Kaneko said that the account belonging to its Osaka Higashi dealer in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, posted the tweet at around 6 p.m., about 30 minutes after the news emerged but deleted it by 8 p.m. The dealer’s Twitter account had apparently been deleted since the contentious tweet.

Kaneko said the firm warned its workers, including those at subsidiaries and affiliated firms, not to post similar comments about Nissan, as such practice could hurt Honda’s image.

“We’re now more cautious in instructing (workers about the use of social media),” so they don’t publish these kinds of harmful comments anymore, Kaneko said.

He also explained that the distributorship agreement between Honda Cars Osaka Higashi and the parent firm is the pair’s only tie-up and that the two do not have any capital relationship.

Kaneko said the Nissan scandal would not have any impact on Honda’s sales and that the firm had its own measures to gain and maintain the trust of its customers.

“Having effective corporate compliance is an obvious thing to us,” so it’s unlikely Honda will become embroiled in a scandal similar to the one involving Nissan, he said.

“We’ve been doing our best to make it work on a daily basis,” he added.