Nissan Motor Co. is distancing itself from a controversial ad created by one of its Southern California dealerships that shows store managers whacking away at a Mexican piñata resembling Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The video appears to have been created in response to derogatory statements Mr. Trump made when he entered the race for president and promised to overhaul U.S. immigration policy.
In his campaign kickoff speech in June, Mr. Trump said that Mexican immigrants to the United States are "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists."
The comments enraged many Mexicans and brought Mr. Trump notoriety on both sides of the debate over immigration, but also helped propel him in early polls for the Republican nomination.
The video spot by Van Nuys Nissan features a piñata marketed as a "Donald Trump piñata," complete with yellow hair and a business suit. The Trumpudo piñata has become a novelty and symbol of protest and outrage in Hispanic communities after Mr. Trump's comments.
After store managers hit the piñata, Van Nuys General Sales Manager Martin Cuevas declares, "Aqui en Van Nuys Nissan, los Latinos mandan." (Translation: "Here at Van Nuys Nissan, Latinos rule.")
Nissan has launched a major initiative to target Hispanics, one of the nation's fastest-growing minority groups, and has recruited dealers from Mexico to help a handful of its U.S. stores as part of the effort.
Nissan overtook Honda to become the No. 2 U.S. auto brand among Hispanic consumers in 2014, after Toyota.
On Tuesday, in response to the video, Nissan North America released a statement distancing itself from the dealer.
"We find these advertisements to be neither responsible or respectful, and we do not condone what they represent," Nissan said. "We expect our dealers to establish advertising that is responsible and respectful and represents the best interest of the Nissan brand."
Nissan added that it "respects the right of both individuals and private businesses to practice free speech in a responsible and respectful manner."
The dealership did not return calls about the ad on Tuesday.
Car dealers have poked fun at controversial politicians with ads in the past.
But various online readers took issue with the brief Nissan ad. One posting on Van Nuys Nissan's Facebook page accused the dealership of racism, since the piñata has blonde hair.
A posting on another site suggested the Secret Service should investigate the ad.
Lindsay Chappell is a writer with Automotive News