Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.: Wake Up And Drive campaign

Rebecca Stanfel


Mired in a slump caused by sinking sales, a dwindling market share, an anonymous image, and an ill-defined marketing drive, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (then called Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America) introduced an updated version of its midsize sedan, the Galant, in August 1998. Mitsubishi saw this redesign as an opportunity to reinvigorate the company's brand image, and it selected the advertising agency Deutsch, Inc., of New York and Marina del Ray, California, to craft a campaign that would not only distinguish the Galant from its more established rivals but that would also prove strong enough to apply to the entire line of Mitsubishi automobiles.

The resulting $50 million campaign, tagged "Wake Up and Drive," focused on TV, with supporting print, outdoor, and Internet elements. The commercials positioned the Galant as an alternative to the staid family sedan through the use of a pulsing sound track, quick-cutting footage of the Galant barreling down rural and urban streets, and flashes of text messages designed to appear as though they were emerging from the road. The text transmitted the campaign's controlling theme: that responsible adults could remain youthful at heart and choose their automobiles accordingly. As Mitsubishi began to find success with this style-focused pitch, it awarded its entire $180 million-plus U.S. advertising account to Deutsch, which set about applying the theme to the full range of Mitsubishi automobiles. When paired with its affordable compact and sports cars—the Lancer and Eclipse—in particular, the "Wake Up and Drive" pitch more openly courted younger buyers.