Ian Beavis: Every Mitsubishi vehicle will be included in the carmaker's new ad campaign.
It also will provide its dealerships with money to spread the message locally and regionally.
With no new nameplates in the 2005 model year, Mitsubishi is seeking other ways to boost sales.
Mitsubishi's consumer research says that 67 percent of U.S. auto buyers are aware of the brand, up substantially from 44 percent in 1998. But only 1 percent would consider buying a Mitsubishi, says Ian Beavis, senior vice president of marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc.
That's because consumers do not perceive Mitsubishi as a top Japanese brand, he says. Consumers also believe the cars are not good value for the money and are expensive to maintain.
So in TV commercials that begin airing today, Oct. 11, Mitsubishi will push the warranty programs that it adopted this summer. Mitsubishi's warranty includes a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a 5-year/-60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 3-year/45,000-mile free maintenance policy. "We've got to help our dealers," Beavis says. "When sales plummet, dealers go to used. We need to get them back in the game for new."
U.S. sales have plunged in the past several months. They fell 60.8 percent in August, 42.3 percent in September and are off 35.2 percent for the year. Beavis says some of the slide is a result of the company's exit from fleet sales. Picking up the slack with retail sales has been a challenge, he says.
The new "best backed" campaign will break with 60- and 30-second spots called "Anthem" today. It shows person after person in red technician uniforms watching over Mitsubishi cars wherever they travel.
"We want people to know that nobody stands behind their cars like Mitsubishi," says Peter Goodwin, executive vice president of Deutsch LA Inc., Mitsubishi's ad agency. "We had to personalize the message to do it. So instead of concentrating on the specifics of the warranty, we focused on people."
The commercials will air on cable and network TV shows via spot buys.
Beavis would not talk about the campaign cost, but he says Mitsubishi has not cut its ad budget. TNS Media Intelligence/CMR estimates that the company spent $275.6 million on measured media last year.
Beavis says the company also will advertise on radio, the Internet and about 50 different print publications. He says, for the first time, every vehicle will be included in the campaign.
Money for dealers
He also says the company has committed to a 52-week co-op advertising program with its dealerships. He did not give specifics, but dealers say it amounts to 50 cents for every dollar they spend on advertising.
Scott Grove, vice president of the three Max Madsen Mitsubishi stores in Chicago, saw the new commercials at the national Mitsubishi dealer meeting in New Orleans in September.
"Best backed (warranty) is now our DNA," he says. "We have awareness, but people lack confidence in our product. I believe this will at least help us get on (consumers') lists."
Kathy Jackson can be reached at [email protected]