Mitsubishi Fuels Ad Fire

NEW YORK Mitsubishi Motors North America is launching a one-month customer incentive that offers a twist on what it calls “liquid assets.”

The program, with the theme “Gas comes standard,” dangles a year’s worth of free gasoline to buyers of 2005 model-year Mitsubishi vehicles.

An advertising effort, via Omnicom Group’s BBDO, San Francisco, attacking both $3-a-gallon gasoline as well as traditional incentives, starts Friday and runs through the end of October. Purchasers of 2005 Mitsubishi vehicles will receive a pre-paid debit card, totaling from $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the model’s EPA rating. The cards can be used for gasoline at most major motor oil companies’ retail locations.

Dave Schembri, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Mitsubishi, Cypress, Calif., said the offer says as much about gas prices as incentives. “We wanted to offer consumers something that is not only clearly valuable but also very relevant,” he said.

He said ads would use an icon in the shape of a gasoline pump, bearing the Mitsubishi brand symbol—the red, triple diamond-shaped propeller blade. Television spots will show running footage of 2005 vehicles. Full-page ads break in Friday’s USA Today and in Monday sports sections. “We will have ads for national, dealer group and dealer level,” said Schembri.

Mitsubishi is still staggering from market blows in 2004. Unit sales of 87, 074 were down 30 percent through August, and though Eclipse sales salvaged the month year to date, up 2 percent at 10,945 units, 2004 sales were off nearly 58 percent, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Even the new Eclipse is off 2 percent year to date, versus the earlier model, per