Deutsch’s Passing Lane – Mitsubishi Retail Push Threatens G2 TV Ads

Faced with soft sales, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America plans to replace most of its national TV ads from G2 Advertising with new dealer-oriented spots created by Deutsch L.A., said sources.
The shift could happen as early as this week, said sources. The ads are in addition to the TV work for dealer groups created by Deutsch’s Marina del Rey, Calif., office. Huntington Beach, Calif.-based G2’s national print duties are not affected.
While the move would not mean any shift in billings between the two shops (factory agency G2 has already bought the media time), it would mark Deutsch’s first inroad on the $150 million factory account since it recently won the $65-80 million dealer business.
Mike Nash, vice president of retail strategies and dealer support for Cypress, Calif.-based Mitsubishi, confirmed the company is “talking” about airing Deutsch’s spots nationally, but said no decision has been made. “We’re considering a lot of things,” said Nash. “There’s not a revolution here–we’re not throwing G2 out on their ear.”
Francis Oda, vice president, marketing, said Mitsubishi is “shifting more resources” to retail-oriented advertising to help dealers build traffic to showrooms. She added that TV ads from G2 would continue to appear.
Donny Deutsch, chief executive of New York-based Deutsch, said, “I think there’s a chance that Mitsubishi may be shifting weight toward a more retail focus but if you make any more of it than that, you’re totally mistaken.” Executives at G2 declined to comment.
Deutsch’s new spots humorously explore the theme of “Life, cars and adulthood.” In one, a businessman is crestfallen when two women–who he thinks are flirting with him–call him “sir.” In another, a man is humiliated at his gym when he is unmasked as the owner of a minivan. The message: A sporty Mitsubishi can help you feel young again.
Mitsubishi may use the Galant launch in August to replace G2’s “Built for living” theme, said Nash. But he downplayed speculation that Deutsch will get to work on national Galant ads. “That’s really G2’s bag at this point,” he said. G2, owned by Grey Advertising in New York, inked a three-year contract with Mitsubishi in March of 1996.
Mitsubishi’s year-to-date sales have dropped 4 percent, according to J.D. Power and Associates, and sales of Galant are down 39 percent through February. Nash said those numbers improved in March.