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Ford and Nissan going to court after TV ad

Ford filed a criminal lawsuit against the Brazilian management of Nissan Motor Co after Nissan aired a TV ad in Brazil that poked fun of the Ford Focus.

By Guillermo Parra-BernalReuters / March 25, 2011

Ford is suing Nissan's Brazil management over an unflattering Brazilian TV ad that poked fun at the Ford Focus.

Reed Saxon/AP

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The Brazilian unit of Ford Motor Co filed a criminal lawsuit against the local management of rival Nissan Motor Co for airing a TV commercial that says the U.S. automaker charges customers too much for hatchback models.

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The commercial, which was withdrawn from national TV on March 3 after Ford obtained an injunction, shows two rappers dressed as Ford engineers in factory outfits boasting about the money they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 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 $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Nissan took aim at General Motors and Fiat, Brazil's best-selling auto brand, in a series of ads that were eventually withdrawn.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.

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