PASADENA, Calif. -- Mitsubishi is promoting its new Raider pickup with tailgate parties at college football games across the country.
Mitsubishi sponsored its first party Oct. 8 at the Rose Bowl here, before the UCLA-California game. The 2006 Raider went on sale late last month.
The $1 million "Raider Tailgate Tour" offers fans free sausages, noodles and soft drinks served by Japanese-style chefs. Japanese-style drummers provide entertainment from the beds of Raider trucks.
Dave Schembri, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., says sponsorships such as the tailgate parties will play a big role in the company's marketing.
"We want to take our marketing onto the street, where people work and play," Schembri told Automotive News. "What better place to showcase the most intimidating truck in its class than at a sports event?"
The Raider tailgaters at the Rose Bowl ranged in age from very young to mature. They included an even mix of men and women. Fans could look at and sit in other Mitsubishi vehicles, such as the Lancer Evolution and Eclipse sports cars and the Endeavor SUV.
Mitsubishi will hold tailgate parties in Miami and Jacksonville, Fla; Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Charlottesville, Va.; and Palo Alto, Calif. It also will hold a tailgate party during Mitsubishi owners' day Oct. 22 at its plant in Normal, Ill.
College football fans are a "pretty good target market" for the Raider, says Gordon Wangers, CEO of Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. in Marina del Rey, Calif.
"This is a good marketing opportunity, a real good niche for Raider," Wangers says. "The only real competitor is the Dodge Dakota."
The Raider is based on the Dakota.
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