This man has become a fixture at Nissan’s press events. He walks around with a small video camera and a laptop hanging from his neck, as if he’s selling hot dogs at a ballgame. His name is Shotaro Ogawa, and he is most likely the biggest revolution when it comes to automakers connecting with their customers. Ogawa is Nissan’s walking live video stream and real time social networker. And he may put us old timey bloggers out of business.
Just take today: I got up at six, took the 9am flight to an airport you probably never heard of (Kitakyushu,) braved typhoon delays and got home to Tokyo by 10 p. By the time I had pictures sorted, the Ghosn and Yen story written, it was 5 in the morning.
Ogawa was done for the day at 4pm. His live stream went up via Ustream. Nothing else to do for him than be there and point his high def video camera in the right direction. Bingo, hours of entertainment for the adoring masses. Those masses can even talk back. Osawa receives typed messages and tweets and writes back as the event happens.
Other carmakers get hopped up about social media, and what do they get? Some in-house blogs that are long out of date after everybody and legal has signed off on the story. A bunch of tweets that are too boring to monitor, and that stop cold when someone inadvertently uses the F-word, or even more inadvertently tweeted via Foursquare: “I am at the Folsom Street Fair with 200 others.”
Ogawa, a 20 year veteran of Nissan, is miles ahead of them. Isn’t it a bit risky to stream something live, I mean, who knows what might happen? “Sure it is,” says Ian Rowley, Manager of Nissan’s Global Media Center in Yokohama. “There is always a small element of risk. But the benefits by far outweigh the risk. Also, it helps to have a boss who doesn’t mind a little risk,” he says and points in the direction of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is up on stage, talking to blue-clad workers at the Kyushu plant while Ogawa’s laptop is streaming him live through the interwebs.
Currently, the material is only in available in Japanese. Nothing stops Nissan from doing it in English tomorrow. Especially with a CEO named Carlos Ghosn, who addresses his employees in English, with rapid-fire translation on Channel B. If all automakers adopt this idea, then us old-school bloggers can pack it in. Or we can pray to the God of Bytes and Pixels that a stage catches fire, a fired dealer disrobes on stage, or PETA disrupts the proceedings, demonstrating against horsepower, which is a blatant abuse of animals.