Mayer, Jullens Are Latest to Exit Mitsubishi

LOS ANGELES Kevin Mayer, director of advertising, and John Jullens, director of corporate strategic planning, are the latest in a succession of unexpected executive departures at Mitsubishi Motors North America, sources said.

Neither Mayer nor Jullens could be reached; MMNA declined comment.

Mayer’s moves come less than two months before Mitsubishi’s June 12 launch of the redesigned Eclipse, a model widely considered crucial to the struggling automaker’s immediate future. Mayer replaced Diane Hong last December amidst a creative account review in which then incumbent Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA, Marina del Rey, Calif., was eventually succeeded by Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York. Hong’s career was also short-lived; she had replaced Paul Mareski, who resigned the position in June 2004.

The spate of executive defections at the Cypress, Calif.-based nameplate started in December 2003, when then president and COO Greg O’Neill resigned during a period of 200 layoffs. In November 2004, Ian Beavis, svp of marketing and product planning, left to consult outside the industry. Hong moved to the San Francisco area to join mFoundry, which helps businesses market brands through mobile devices. Finbarr O’Neill resigned in December to join Reynolds & Reynolds, an auto dealer information technology company in Dayton, Ohio. Robert Martin, director of brand marketing, resigned in March. Mike Tocci, svp of sales and distribution, left in April to join automotive rival Kia Motors America, Irvine, Calif.

Since that time, David Schembri joined the company in February from Mercedes-Benz as executive vice president of sales and marketing and Rich Gilligan, formerly the COO in charge of Mitsubishi’s domestic manufacturing, replaced O’Neill in January.

The company spent $285 million on advertising in 2004, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, but sources indicate that the marketing budget has been severely curtailed in the wake of the company’s recent reorganization plan. Sales declined 39 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to Ward’s Automotive. Only Isuzu’s domestic sales performance was worse, declining 45 percent in the quarter.