Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. kicked off its first regional sales event last week with a spot TV campaign from its expanded dealer ad groups.
Under the 'Everybody Wins' promotion, dealer groups can choose to promote two of three vehicles, the Eclipse coupe, Galant sedan or Montero Sport sport-utility, said Peg Dilworth-Hunt, marketing director at Mitsubishi.
The regional groups also can pick from an inventory of nine TV commercials, three for each vehicle. The spots are from ad agency Deutsch of New York and Marina del Rey, Calif. The first TV flight ends April 20; a second runs from mid-May to the end of May.
During the past year, Mitsubishi has encouraged its dealers to form regional ad groups, and they have grown from 11 to 41. When Deutsch won the regional ad account a year ago, the company said its annual spending could reach $65 million to $80 million.
Eric Hirshberg, executive creative director at the agency, does voice-over in six commercials. All nine spots carry the national tag, 'Wake up and drive.'
The TV buy is supplemented by Web banner ads and point-of-purchase materials, said Dilworth-Hunt.
After several years of market-share erosion, the brand is starting to show signs of life. Mitsubishi sold 190,515 vehicles last year, up 0.7 percent from the 189,163 sold in 1997.
Last month, Mitsubishi sales rose 69.1 percent to 20,388 vehicles from 12,060 in March 1997. Sales of the Galant and Mirage have improved significantly.
John Ourisman, a Mitsubishi dealer in Marlow Heights, Md., said his dealership tripled vehicle sales during the first quarter from the same period a year ago. He said advertising from Deutsch, which started with the Galant's launch last summer, has broadened the brand's appeal to younger buyers.
Said Ourisman: 'The 'Wake up and drive' campaign is better than most of the advertising I've seen from Mitsubishi in the last 15 years.'