Online Exclusive: Interactive News


'Thrill Ride Challenge' Offers Virtual Races on Roads Around the World

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DETROIT ( -- Mitsubishi Motors North America next week will launch an online digital game to promote the introduction of its redesigned 2006 Eclipse, a Mitsubishi spokeswoman said.
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Six roads
Called the "Thrill Ride Challenge," the game is a virtual timed driving race on one of six roads from around the world. It will be promoted through Aug. 15 on Yahoo and a variety of sites including, Yahoo Autos,,, AOL Autos, MSN,, and

The special Yahoo promotion will include a take over of the home page on June 15, during which visitors will be greeted by a Eclipse driving across the screen to promote access to the game.

The participant with the best time each week will win a Mitsubishi flat screen TV or an Apple iPod.

Mitsubishi expects the one-day Yahoo takeover to generate 20,000 leads from prospective Eclipse buyers from the 100 million impressions, the spokeswoman said.

Organic and BBDO
Omnicom Group's San Francisco interactive agency Organic worked with the automaker's creative agency, sibling BBDO North America, to develop and create the promotion, Mitsubishi said. BBDO created the tagline "Driven to Thrill" as the ad campaign's umbrella theme for the brand.

BBDO broke in the first Eclipse launch spot May 22 after the advertiser advanced the sale date of the car three weeks earlier than planned.

But within the first week of the launch, the automaker quickly learned of a problem that could cause brake failure that forced it to stop selling and fix some 1,200 Eclipses, according to a report in Automotive News reported. Sales have since resumed.

Steep sales decline
Mitsubishi desperately needs the car to be a hit. The automaker's U.S. vehicle sales have been in a virtual freefall. It sold 55,132 units through May, a 38% drop from the 89,501 it sold a year ago, according to Automotive News.

The carmaker has also witnessed an exodus of executives, including four marketing officials, since late last year.

The 2006 Eclipse is the first of three new models Mitsubishi will introduce in the next 12 months.

In late May, Japanese parent Mitsubishi Motors Corp. reported that its worldwide net loss was nearly $4.4 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31 -- more than double its loss for the prior year.

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