A Struggling Mitsubishi Places Its $95 Million U.S. Ad Business in Review

180LA won the account in 2010

Mitsubishi has chosen a new agency of record. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Mitsubishi Motors has launched a creative review for its U.S. advertising business. Incumbent 180LA will not participate.

The news comes approximately one year after a mileage scandal rocked the Japanese company and just under seven years after its last review, which saw 180LA beat out Cutwater and Barrie D’Rozario Murphy for the business with Schematic on digital. Omnicom’s PHD has handled media planning and buying for Mitsubishi since 2004.

“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,” said 180LA CEO Michael Allen. “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.”

One party close to the matter said the client ended its relationship with the agency amid a dispute over fees. Another said the split was not a mutual decision. 180LA did not elaborate beyond Allen’s statement, and Mitsubishi representatives have not responded to multiple emails and phone calls regarding the news this week.

Earlier this year, Carlos Ghosn, the Renault CEO largely credited with helping rejuvenate Nissan, announced that he would be stepping down from his role atop the latter company to focus on other projects—chief among them: bringing Mitsubishi back from the brink after Nissan acquired a minority stake in the business.

This news came several months after Mitsubishi executives admitted they had misled Japanese regulators regarding the fuel economy ratings of multiple models. The company’s market value then dropped dramatically before transport ministry officials raided its headquarters in Tokyo. Mitsubishi reported a $1.6 billion loss for fiscal year 2016.

Interestingly, the brand’s U.S. sales totals held steady in the wake of the scandal despite amounting to “less than 1 percent of the [domestic auto] market,” according to Business Insider.

During the seven years it worked on the account, 180LA produced a variety of campaigns ranging from an electric car promotion set in the town of Normal, Ill., to a Facebook activation that let fans “run over” their most pretentious friends.

Mitsubishi Motors North America spent approximately $95 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2016, according to the latest numbers from Kantar Media. That total marked an increase over its $82 million 2015 budget.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: May 26, 2017 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/a-struggling-mitsubishi-places-its-95-million-u-s-ad-business-in-review/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT