Beavis to Leave Mitsubishi

LOS ANGELES Ian Beavis, svp of marketing, product planning and public relations at Mitsubishi Motors North America, has resigned from the company citing personal reasons, the automaker said.

Beavis would not detail his reasons for leaving, nor speculate on how his departure might affect Mitsubishi’s agency, Interpublic Group’s Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif., which has held the estimated $300 million account since 1998.

Beavis said he was proud of his accomplishments during his short stint at the embattled automaker. “We’ve managed to change marketing direction to be more product focused but with the requisite and relevant emotions and, as a matter of course, produced highly integrated marketing campaigns,” said Beavis. “We consolidated media, consolidated interactive, and introduced a number of best practices and left intact a long-term strategy that will take time to pay off.”

A Mitsubishi representative said the search for Beavis’s replacement is underway via an executive recruiter.

During Beavis’s reign, Mitsubishi’s creative veered from the emotional “Wake Up and Drive” campaign, what Beavis called a “rock video” orientation, to more rational product and performance specifics illustrated by Deutsch’s cliffhanger spots, sending viewers to a Website.

A month after he joined [Adweek Online, December 2], president and COO Greg O’Neill resigned as the company laid off 200 employees. In April, media business was shifted from Deutsch to Omnicom’s PHD, New York, and Pentacom Canada [Adweek Online, April 22] after parent DaimlerChrysler announced that it would “cease further support” of Mitsubishi.

In June, Paul Mareski resigned as vice president of advertising after only six months in the job. Beavis shifted media dollars away from network television while tripling the print budget. The latest creative stresses Mitsubishi’s substitution of incentives with its “best backed car in the world” warranty.

Beavis, 51, joined the Cypress, Calif.-based automaker in late November, 2003, from the advertising/PR firm The Shop, San Francisco, where he was a senior partner. The former Ford Motor, Australia, advertising manager worked at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi from 1983 to 1997, where his accounts included Toyota. Beavis returned to the client side as marketing communications manager for Lincoln-Mercury in Detroit and Los Angeles before joining Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding’s Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco offices. Beavis was president and CEO of the FCB/SF from 2001 to 2003.

Mitsubishi reported unit sales of 142,000 through October, down 45 percent compared to the same period last year, after losing 42 percent in September, according to Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif.