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Mitsubishi Keeps Door Open

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Review Still Possible as Deutsch Launches Galant
LOS ANGELES--Even as Deutsch breaks a new $40 million-plus campaign for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America's all-new Galant sedan, the car maker is examining all of its agency relationships and hinting that other shops may still have an outside shot at its factory business.
Mitsubishi is "keeping the door open" on a review for its $100 million general ad account, said Pierre Gagnon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Cypress, Calif.-based automotive company, at a Galant press conference last week.
Once the Galant launch is under way, the agency and client will discuss a long-term arrangement, said Gagnon. A review is "less and less of a possibility" given Deutsch's performance so far, he added.
Mitsubishi plans to "look at" all of its agency relationships, with an eye toward possible changes, said marketing communications director Peg Dilworth-Hunt. Besides Deutsch, Mitsubishi uses a variety of shops. Direct Partners in Santa Monica, Calif., handles direct marketing duties; The Designory in Long Beach, Calif., creates collateral ads; CKS Partners in Portland, Ore., handles interactive marketing; and Valdƒs Zacky Associates in Los Angeles handles Hispanic ad duties.
Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America's total ad spending exceeds $200 million a year, according to Gagnon.
With Mitsubishi unwilling to rule out a review for the factory business, the Galant launch is seen as a make-or-break project for Deutsch, which already handles the client's consolidated $80 million dealer account. However, sources said the agency is already sketching out long-term ad strategies for other models, such as the Montero and Eclipse. The agency expects to be formally awarded the factory account in a matter of weeks, said sources. Deutsch chief executive Donny Deutsch would only say, "We hope this is the beginning of a very long relationship."
To support the Galant, Deutsch is breaking a fast-paced TV and print campaign under the theme, "Wake up and drive."
The TV spots feature driving music (including '70s icon Iggy Pop's song "Lust for Life"), quick cuts and a blinking neon version of Mitsubishi's three-diamond logo. The Galant is shown speeding down various highways, and, in two spots, driving around the Las Vegas Strip with casino lights serving as a backdrop. Cheeky lines of text, including "The other soccer moms will talk," "The official music of sedan drivers is no longer easy listening" and "A family sedan disguised as a mid-life crisis," flash and vibrate on the screen in the ads.
Two teaser ads broke this weekend, with the bulk of the campaign kicking in on Aug. 1. Similar print ads appear in general market and car enthusiast magazines.
Mitsubishi will spend $44 million to support the campaign through the third quarter, said Dilworth-Hunt.
Eric Hirshberg, the creative director at Deutsch's Marina del Rey, Calif., office who oversaw the creative effort with Kathy Delaney of Deutsch in New York, said the ads give Mitsubishi a "confident tone" for the first time. "These ads say we're not going to play second fiddle to anybody," he said. "[The ads] hit the spirited core in consumers that may have fallen asleep but just needed something to wake it up," he added.
Mike Sheldon, Deutsch's executive vice president and general manager in Marina del Rey, suggested the campaign aims to do more than just support the Galant. "This is about relaunching this car company through this product," he noted.
Deutsch beat Mitsubishi's longtime agency, G2 Advertising in Huntington Beach, Calif., in the pitch for the Galant launch. Subsequently, G2 said it would close by October [Adweek, May 25].