Honda starts advertising campaign related to airbag recalls

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Honda Ad Campaign Urges Recall Repairs.

DETROIT — Honda is launching an unprecedented U.S. ad campaign urging owners to get vehicles repaired if they have been recalled to fix defective air bags. (Bloomberg) — Honda Motor Co., the carmaker at the center of an air-bag safety crisis, is spending millions of dollars on its first U.S. advertising campaign linked to a recall. The cars have faulty airbags made by the Takata Corporation, the Japanese auto supplier, where the inflater can explode, sending metal shards flying into the passenger cabin. The company will urge owners to immediately replace potentially lethal air-bags made by Takata Corp. in Honda cars through advertisements on March 16. The notices will be placed in more than 120 U.S. newspapers and announced on radio in more than 110 markets in English and Spanish, it said in a statement.

The company said its campaign would involve newspaper, radio and social media ads focused on 11 high-humidity states and American territories, where the company says it believes the risk is greatest. Honda is trying to ensure car owners take action to prevent potentially fatal accidents after a rupturing air bag in a Honda car claimed a fifth victim in January. But Honda noted Thursday that an estimated one-third of all recalled vehicles in the US are never repaired, a problem more common with older model vehicles. Takata bags can fail during deployment and propel metal shards at passengers, a flaw that has led to millions of vehicle recalls by at least 10 automakers. “These ads are a strong call to action from our company designed to break through the clutter, grab the attention of customers driving affected vehicles, and urge that they get required repairs as soon as possible,” John Mendel, executive vice president of the automobile division of Honda’s American unit, said in the statement.

The Tokyo-based maker of Civic compacts and Accord sedans will also use customized Facebook posts to capture owners attention and encourage them to take action, it said. The Senate Commerce Committee sent a letter on Thursday to the company’s chairman demanding that documents requested by the committee last year be immediately turned over. Honda said the campaign will focus mainly on the 11 states and US territories that it believes pose the greatest risk because of their high absolute humidity levels that could contribute to an inflator rupture in some older-model Takata front airbags. The letter, sent jointly by the committee’s chairman, John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, and Bill Nelson of Florida, the panel’s top Democrat, said Takata had “not fully addressed several of the committee’s requests” and stated that the company had until Friday to produce the documents.

Honda also said it has hired firms with specialized search skills and access to unique databases to locate registered owners in cases where postal notifications have been returned to the company as undeliverable. That marked an expansion of the four areas — Florida, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — that Honda had initially identified last year amid a wave of airbag recalls. The ad makes clear that recalls are free, and promises loaners if there is a delay in getting the cars repaired. “Almost everyone knows someone who owns a Honda,” says one print ad, which urges friends to tell owners to contact the company. “We care about your safety, so please take action immediately.” Honday says it has repaired just 14 percent of the recalled cars, or 340,123. The campaign follows comments by Honda Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito last month that the carmaker wasn’t able to track down and fix the car of Carlos Solis IV, a father of two teenagers.

Solis was killed Jan. 18 in Houston in a second-hand Honda Accord he bought in April from a dealership that hadn’t performed a recall on the air bag issued in 2011. Chrysler, Ford and Toyota, which also have recalled cars with Takata air bags, say they have also done phone calls and mailings, but none plans to match Honda’s advertising effort.

A spokesman for Honda, Chris Martin, said on Thursday that dealers were “currently completing recall repairs on a daily basis utilizing available parts supplies with some limited delays for parts on order.” Mr. Martin said Honda had contracted with the airbag suppliers Autoliv and Daicel to begin supplementing replacement parts for the airbags “starting in the near future.” “At that point, together with increased production from Takata, we anticipate replacement inflater supplies for Honda and Acura vehicles to quickly catch up with demand,” he said.

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