Online Exclusive: Account Action

MITSUBISHI PUTS AD ACCOUNT UP FOR REVIEW

Incumbent Deutsch Invited to Participate

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Mitsubishi Motors North America has put its advertising account up for review, according to the company.
U.S. Mitsubishi sales are down 25%, the senior marketing VP has left, and the advertising account is in review.

Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Deutsch, Los Angeles, has handled the account for the past six years, and the automaker said the agency would be invited to participate in the review.

Search consultant Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., will conduct the review.

Senior VP departure
The move comes a week after the troubled automaker’s senior vice president of marketing, Ian Beavis, resigned.

Sources indicated that the situation included pressure from parent Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in Japan. There, the chairman in has criticized Mitsubishi's U.S. advertising and has questioned whether the ads here have been appropriate, according to Automotive News.

Mitsubishi hired Deutsch in 1998 following a review. To give the brand cache with young car buyers, Deutsch developed a campaign with up-and-coming pop musicians, often resulting in the emergence of new hit songs and groups. The creative was matched with appealing incentives, such as easy triple-zero financing, no payments down, no financing costs and no payments for a year.

Returns and repossessions
The promotion produced a boom in sales, particularly with the target demographic. Later, however, those buyers had difficulty keeping up with payments, resulting in vehicle returns or repossessions.

Deutsch broke a campaign in October touting Mitsubishi as the “best-backed cars in the world,” endorsing the carmaker’s five-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Sales dropped 25%
Last year, Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales dropped 25% from the previous year, selling just 256,810 vehicles.

Mitsubishi had measured media ad spending of $275 million in 2003 and $179 million from January through July of this year, according TNS Media Intelligence/ CMR.

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Bradley Johnson and Jean Halliday contributed to this report.