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MITSUBISHI TO EMPHASIZE BRAND IMAGE;SHIFT FROM CARS RESEMBLES NISSAN

By Published on .

Like competitor Nissan Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors of America is veering away from emphasizing individual cars and shifting to image.

Its new effort breaking this month is based on a central branding theme, while highlighting attributes of the new Montero sport-utility vehicle; all-new cars from Diamante and Mirage; and the remodeled Eclipse, Galant and 3000 GT.

GOAL: `A STRONG BRAND'

"Even though we had strength in individual products, we didn't have awareness in the Mitsubishi name," said Frances Oda, VP-marketing services for Mitsubishi. "We want people to think of us as a strong brand and a full-line company."

Themed "Built for living," the print and TV campaign is from G2 Advertising, a Huntington Beach, Calif., subsidiary of Grey Advertising.

Ms. Oda wouldn't disclose the budget but said it will be a significant portion of Mitsubishi's estimated $200 million in annual spending and will result in a much larger ad budget next year.

ANSWERING DEALERS

This campaign should quiet Mitsubishi dealers who have frequently complained about ads and low spending. Though Mitsubishi has been in the U.S. for 15 years, dealers say it lacks a distinct brand image.

TV consists of six spots, with one even showing an extended family driving an entire lineup of Mitsubishi vehicles. All TV commercials use humor and a "real world" approach to bring an overall unity to the disparate vehicles. The red Mitsubishi logo appears in the right hand corner of each spot.

What Ms. Oda called "an extensive magazine schedule" will begin in October and includes a 12-page insert in consumer and automotive enthusiast publications.

The TV media buy deviates from Mitsubishi's traditionally broad, national media strategy.

DIFFERENT TV STRATEGY

"We're buying an extensive schedule on top-rated shows and running the whole series of our product line," said Ms. Oda. "Viewers will get to know the diversity of our line."

Shows include "ER," "Friends," and pro football games on Fox, NBC and ABC.

The new Mitsubishi campaign follows the July launch of Nissan's $200 million image effort from TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., tagged "Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride." Mitsubishi is the No. 5 Japanese car brand in the U.S.; Nissan is No. 3.

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