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Mitsubishi Eyes Trio

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Three agencies have emerged as finalists in Mitsubishi North America's review of creative duties on its advertising account.

Sources identified the shops as 180/LA in Santa Monica, Calif., and Cutwater in San Francisco, both units of Omnicom Group, and Barrie D'Rozario Murphy in Minneapolis, an independent.

Client executives have briefed the contenders and final presentations are scheduled for next month. The winner will succeed independent Traffic in El Segundo, Calif., which is not defending.

Select Resources International in Santa Monica is managing the creative search.

Beyond traditional advertising, the assignment includes digital efforts (banners, rich media, social media, mobile, search engine marketing and optimization, etc.), promotions and experiential marketing, according to an initial request for proposals.

Mitsubishi's major media spending has significantly declined in recent years, from $177 million in 2007 to $82 million for 2008 and just $18 million in the first 11 months of 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.

At the same time, the carmaker's U.S sales have slid from 128,993 units in 2007 to 97,257 in 2008 and just 53,986 last year, according to Car Concepts in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The contenders either declined to comment or could not be reached. SRI also did not return calls and the Cypress, Calif.-based client had no immediate comment.

Media duties and direct marketing/customer relationship management efforts are not in play and remain at Omnicom Group's PHD and Meredith Integrated Marketing, respectively. Both are in L.A.