Deutsch, Grey Face Off For Mitsubishi

Automaker Gives G2 180 Days Notice on the $150 Mil. Account
LOS ANGELES–Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America last week put its agency, G2 Advertising, on notice.
“We are exercising our right to review our relationship,” confirmed Kim Custer, director of public affairs and corporate communications at Cypress, Calif.-based Mitsubishi. The automaker is “not entirely satisfied with [G2’s] performance,” added Custer. “That doesn’t mean that they can’t improve their performance in the future.”
Custer said G2 was given 180 days notice last week, as stipulated in its three-year contract which is set to expire at the year’s end. The unusually long evaluation period was requested by G2, he said.
The end of the 13-year relationship between Mitsubishi and G2 parent Grey Advertising, however, could come sooner.
This week, G2 will face off against Deutsch LA, Mitsubishi’s dealer agency, for ad duties on the car maker’s biggest launch this year, the new Galant sedan. Custer confirmed the shops will be making presentations soon. “We will pick whoever has the best idea,” he said.
Sources said that should Deutsch prevail in that creative shootout, the agency could be awarded the entire $150 million factory account. Another possible scenario is a full-blown review, said sources.
The company’s new director of marketing communications, Peg Dilworth-Hunt, said there are no plans “at this point” to launch a review. If Mitsubishi should proceed with a search, it would invite both roster and nonroster shops, she said.
David Stickles, president of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based G2, who received the notice by letter, said “They are evaluating all their [vendor] relationships. We are the biggest supplier, so we were first.”
Deutsch, which won the estimated $65-80 million consolidated dealer account earlier this year, has been making inroads into G2’s factory business. Mitsubishi recently pulled most of G2’s TV work off the air and replaced it with dealer-oriented spots from Deutsch [Adweek, April 6].
Mitsubishi’s March sales dropped 28 percent from March 1997, per J.D. Power and Associates. Nearly all the company’s top marketing executives have either been reassigned to new posts or have left the company in recent weeks. –with Michael McCarthy