With Carlos Ghosn Down By The Waterfront
One of the pillars of public relations is „do good and tell the world about it.“
Not in Japan. Here, the rule goes “do good and keep your mouth shut.” Hard-hit Japanese carmakers have been at the forefront of aid to tsunami-ravaged areas. Toyota for instance sent some 100 tractor-trailer loads of fuel, food and other necessities up north to Tohoku – in utter secrecy. Honda said they donated 1,000 generators and 5,000 gas canisters, and never talked again about the bulk of the help.
None of the CEOs of large car companies are seen on TV shaking hands of dealers and donating cars to the cause. This leaves a void, and nature abhors a vacuum. Nature does, and Carlos Ghosn.
Ghosn is the only CEO of a Japanese carmaker that is pressing the flesh and is giving pep talks to factory staff with cameras rolling. And he does this to great effect. When the large insurance company AXA polled “after the earthquake in Japan, which celebrity should take the lead?“ Japanese did put two foreigners on their list of dream candidates:
Barack Obama and Carlos Ghosn.RankCelebrityJob1Takeshi KitanoComedian and movie director2Junichiro KoizumiFormer Prime Minister of Japan3Shintaro IshiharaMayor of Tokyo4Son MasayoshiCEO Softbank5Toru HashimotoMayor of Osaka6Hideo HigashikokubaruFormer game show host and Governor of Miyazaki7Carlos GhosnCEO of Nissan and Renault8Ichiro OzawaDeposed president of the Democratic Party of Japan9Barack ObamaPresident of the United States of America10Akira IkegamiTV reporter
Ghosn handily beats Obama when it comes to saving a country that is in real trouble.
Of course, with a director who is famous for his Yakuza movies in first place, this ranking gives you a little to think about.
Today, Carlos Ghosn was in town and decided to hit the waterfront. At 8 in the morning.
Nissan’s Honmoku Wharf is their largest logistics hub, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama.
The earthquake had caused only minor damage. But it butchered Japan’s electrical grid. And boy, was it ever hot today.
As you can tell, today is Saturday. Nissan, and for that matter most of the Japanese auto industry, is now taking Thursday’s and Friday’s off and works instead over the weekend. The idea is to spread peak power usage out. It seems to work. Friday and Saturday, the digital mercury reached 33 degrees centigrade (91 F), and even at peak time, we still had 9 percent of our available power left. Of course, it’s not just the auto industry that is saving power. Everybody is. Saving power has turned into a national obsession. Even the Japanese hairdresser association got in on the act and recommends pageboy haircuts for the ladies, because it’s cooler and uses less power for the hairdryer.
Ghosn wasn’t in a good mood today.
And the note that was shown to him did not seem to lift his spirits.
“It’s shelves. What’s so funny about shelves?”
Q&A with the media.
Other CEOs play the media like a fiddle.
Ghosn plays the media like a symphony orchestra.
“I heard that, Bertel. If you keep that up, you won’t be invited back.”
Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.
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