LOS ANGELES -- Mitsubishi's long-running tag line, "Wake up and drive," will be retired with the advertising launch of the redesigned Eclipse coupe on June 12.
Dave Schembri, the new executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America, confirmed the demise of the 7-year-old tag line. He declined to reveal the new one.
Mitsubishi is counting on the redesigned Eclipse to spark a revival of the brand in the United States. Mitsubishi's sales plunged 40.2 percent in the first four months of the year compared with 2004. Every nameplate fell by double digits.
"The new Eclipse is about the revival of the Mitsubishi brand," Schembri said. "The new creative will be about the car and not about the warranty."
"Wake up and drive" was born in 1998 to introduce the redesigned Galant sedan. It was the first Mitsubishi work from its new ad agency, Deutsch Inc.
The new Eclipse ad spots and tag line come from BBDO Worldwide, Mitsubishi's agency since March.
Without giving amounts, Schembri said the ad budget for the new Eclipse "is far in excess" of the $25 million that has been quoted in Automotive News. He added that the company's annual advertising budget "is far in excess" of the $120 million reported in the paper. Those figures were provided by company sources.
"We've got tremendous resources in this company," he said. "How those dollars are used is far more important than the dollar amount."
Schembri, in his position since February, challenged the comments of some Mitsubishi employees that there is turmoil in the marketing department because of the recent departures of ad director Kevin Mayer and others.
John Jullens, director of strategic planning, and Bob Martin, director of brand marketing, have left under Schembri's watch.
Two other ad directors resigned within the past year before Schembri came on board.
Schembri said Jullens' job was eliminated. He declined to comment on Mayer and Martin.
"Our company is not in turmoil," he said, "and there is no turmoil in the marketing department."
CEO Rich Gilligan attributes the steep decline in sales to a big drop in fleet sales, which he said will only represent about 10 percent of total sales by year end. Fleet sales were more than 40 percent of sales in 2003.
He expects retail sales to start increasing with the arrival of the Eclipse in late May and the new Raider pickup in the fall.
The redesigned Eclipse Spyder comes next spring, and dealers will get a seven-seat Outlander SUV for the 2007 model year as well as a freshened Galant.
The company hired Keith Lawrence for the new position of vice president of fixed operations in May.
Lawrence will oversee service and parts operations in an effort to improve customer satisfaction and aftermarket parts and accessories sales.
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at