This Man Will Put Us All Out Of Business

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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 Some in-house blogs that are long out of date after everybody and legal has signed off on the story.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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

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=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation
2 of 16 comments
  • B.C. B.C. on Sep 21, 2011

    I'm sick enough of predigested market-fluff as it is ... I can't imagine mainlining it straight up.

  • Econobiker Econobiker on Sep 21, 2011

    Actually this guy's methodology needs to be used by more ~real~ reporters now versus shlepping around in a satellite van accompanied by a crew and showing up after after the authorities arrived and everything has already calmed down.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.