Ford sues Nissan’s Brazil management over TV ad

* Ford files suit against Nissan’s Brazil management

* Rappers in TV ad ridicule Ford for allegedly high prices

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO, March 24 (Reuters) – The Brazilian unit of Ford
Motor Co (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) filed a criminal lawsuit against the local
management of rival Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote, Profile, Research) for airing a TV
commercial that says the U.S. automaker charges customers too
much for hatchback models.

The commercial, which was withdrawn from national TV on
March 3 after Ford obtained an injunction, shows two rappers
dressed as Ford engineers in factory outfits boasting about the
money they pocket by overpricing the hatchback Focus model. A
silver Focus lies in the background, while bikini-clad models
dance and sip champagne.

“All the luxury that I got, I got it with your money,” the
rappers boast, showing off their gold rings and chains. “Don’t
weep because you’re paying extra money — your money was well
spent, look what I do with it.”

The lawsuit was filed at a regional police department in
the city of Sao Jose dos Pinhais, in southern Parana state,
where Nissan and France’s Renault (RENA.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) have a joint
factory, people familiar with the situation told Reuters on the
condition of anonymity. Police Chief Osman Feijoo has agreed to
file charges against Nissan, an assistant said.

Feijoo declined to comment, as did Ford’s media office in
Sao Paulo. A Nissan spokeswoman in Sao Paulo did not have an
immediate comment on the suit, which accuses Nissan’s local
management of “improper brand use” and “unfair competition.”

Nissan has taken on a more aggressive marketing approach in
recent months in Brazil, where car sales have hit sequential
records for four years. The ad touts Nissan’s Tiida model,
which costs 3,000 reais ($1,806) less than the Focus.

TV ads where companies name and poke fun at rivals are
uncommon in Brazil. Last year Nissan took aim at General Motors
(GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Fiat (FI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research), Brazil’s best-selling auto brand, in a
series of ads that were eventually withdrawn.

Ford is ranked fourth in Brazil’s auto market, with a
market share of 9.4 percent. Nissan, a relative newcomer to
Brazil, ranks 12th, with market share of 1.6 percent.
($1 = 1.66 reais)
(Additional reporting by Todd Benson, Cesar Bianconi and
Alberto Alerigi Jr., Editing by Todd Benson and Matthew Lewis)

Ford sues Nissan’s Brazil management over TV ad