Mitsubishi Splits with Creative AOR 180LA After 7 Years

By Patrick Coffee Comment

In case you missed it at the end of the day right before a long weekend, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has ended its 7-year relationship with Omnicom’s 180LA.

Agency CEO Michael Allen gave Adweek the following statement:

“We are very proud of the work we have done with Mitsubishi over the last seven years, including the current ‘Re-model A’ TV program celebrating their 100-year anniversary. They just finished their most recent fiscal year, selling over 100,000 vehicles for the first time in 10 years. This is a 75 percent increase over the last four years, despite the introduction of very few new models. We wish them continued success. Our ambition moving forward remains the same—to do breakthrough work in the automotive category.”

The agency didn’t elaborate on this statement, and client representatives never got back to us—possibly because Mitsubishi Motors recently fired its U.S. head of public relations.

Different parties described the split in different ways. One source said the agency refused to agree to client demands regarding fees vs. workload, while another told us the automaker terminated the relationship of its own accord.

At any rate, Mitsubishi is going through a tumultuous period. A couple of months ago, Renault CEO and Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn announced that he would effectively take over the company’s recovery efforts after a scandal in which employees admitted that they had manipulated fuel economy ratings in an effort to fool Japanese regulators a la Volkswagen. The company lost more than $1.5 billion in 2016.

Given that the client did not discuss the status of its advertising business after more than a week of requests, it’s not yet clear whether a formal review has begun. But according to Kantar Media, Mitsubishi spent around $82 million on paid media in the U.S. in 2015 and increased that total to $95 million last year.

180LA has been actively seeking new business since losing the global ASICS account late last year, and the same parties who alerted us to the Mitsubishi change also noted that Al Moseley, president and CCO of the network’s Amsterdam office, has been in L.A. leading an unspecified pitch.

Last month, the agency confirmed that it would be moving into a new office in Playa Vista’s “Silicon Beach” after more than a decade in Santa Monica.