LOS ANGELES - Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. has handed responsibility for this summer's launch of the do-or-die Galant sedan to dealer association agency Deutsch Inc., a move that essentially shows the door to its national agency, G2.
Both agencies presented rough cuts for the launch campaign last week to Mitsubishi executives. Although both ideas were strong, 'Deutsch more effectively looked at Galant from the eyes of the consumer,' said Pierre Gagnon, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Mo-tor Sales of America.
Without disclosing details of the Deutsch campaign, Gag-non said the ads are 'a call to action' for anyone looking for an alternative to the Camry and Accord.
'There are people who are tired of those cars and who want a change. This is a wake-up call,' Gagnon said.
Mitsubishi spent about $126 million on national brand and product advertising in 1997, according to figures reported to Advertising Age by tracking firm Competitive Media Reporting. Spending is about the same for 1998.
Gagnon said once the Galant is at dealerships, most ad spending for the rest of 1998 will focus on the Galant.
Given that emphasis, that leaves little to do for G2. It also means most advertising revenue will flow through Deutsch as well. The situation does not bode well for the future of Mitsubishi's contract with G2, which expires in less than 180 days.
'In September, we will make a decision about Mitsubishi and G2 and Deutsch. Until then, our highest priority will be the Galant launch. Nothing else matters,' Gagnon said.
A G2 executive did not return a phone call late last week.
Earlier this year, Deutsch gained some Mitsubishi business by nabbing the dealer association ad account over a partnership of Grey West, a subsidiary of the same parent that owns G2, and Zimmerman & Partners, which had a strong grip on many regional dealer accounts.
But after Deutsch won several regional pitch sessions in a row, with only minor wins for Grey/Zimmerman, the Grey/ Zimmerman partnership fizzled, and Deutsch was given all the regional accounts outright.