Mitsubishi backs out of network TV

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Finding nothing "compelling" in network TV's fall schedule, Mitsubishi Motors North America is moving at least half its hefty spending in the medium to national cable, syndicated and spot TV.

In addition, the automaker is increasing magazine spending by 50% and devoting more of its budget to Internet advertising, while withdrawing completely from national newspaper spending except to launch new models.

Ian Beavis, senior VP-marketing, said the automaker-which, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, put $160 million of its total $275 million budget into network TV last year-aims "to reach more highly engaged viewers" with the shift. "We're in the middle of the upfronts, but nothing has come over our desks offered in network television that's compelling right now." In 2003, the company spent $16.4 million in measured media on magazines, $37 million in newspapers and less than $1 million on national newspapers.

account shifts

Omnicom Group's PHD USA got the U.S. buying account last month, with Davinci Selectwork handling media optimization, reviewing plans by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles. Deutsch recently outlined a program that would move 20% of its clients' prime-time buying out of network TV to cable, syndication and Internet ads but it is unclear whether Mitsubishi's spending shift is related to that program. Mr. Beavis said only that both Deutsch and Davinci confirmed what he observed when he joined Mitsubishi last fall: The marketer was too heavily invested in network TV.

Mitsubishi, whose sales through April fell 34% to 73,130 vehicles, has had storied financial problems. Its Japanese parent, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., posted a global operating loss of $916 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, according to Automotive News. The automaker announced a quickly plotted revitalization and financing plan last month in Japan after Germany's DaimlerChrysler, which owns 37% of Mitsubishi, reversed a decision at the eleventh hour for a cash infusion.

Mr. Beavis maintains the media shift is not motivated by saving money. Instead he said the company plans to spend more, and more efficiently, allowing Mitsubishi to advertise year-round and "fish where the fish are."

Mr. Beavis is part of a new team out to revitalize Mitsubishi, which became known as a brand sold with easy credit to younger buyers. The brand keeps its six-year-old positioning of "spirited cars for spirited people," but is reaching out to a broader audience.

Braking Test

Mr. Beavis is out to conquer owners of competitors and Mitsubishi takes direct aim at American Honda Motor Co. in a second cliffhanging comparative TV commercial breaking June 1 on national cable and spot TV.

The 30-second spot from Deutsch shows Mitsubishi's redone Galant sedan zooming down a road next to Honda's Accord EX V-6. The super at the start says it's a "Braking Test." But viewers don't know which car does best when the cars try to stop at the end of an unfinished bridge. To find out, they must go to

The spot will run about eight weeks and follows Mitsubishi's Galant cliffhanger commercial that broke during the Super Bowl and first directed viewers to But this time, Mitsubishi will also advertise online on auto, lifestyle and search engines to drive traffic to the site. A third cliffhanger spot is due in late June for the Endeavor sport utility.

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