Mitsubishi's TV/Web Ad Strategy A Super Bowl Success

Crashing Car Story Line Spans Two Mediums; Pulls High Online Traffic

By Jean Halliday

DETROIT ( — While most post-Super Bowl attention focused on the halftime debacle and the mediocre quality of most commercials, one place the event did shine for marketers as never before was on the Web.

The most dramatic, symbiotic TV-Internet Super Bowl media strategy was that of Mitsubishi Motors North America. Created by Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Deutsch, Los Angeles, Mitsubishi’s campaign combined the front-end lure of a Super Bowl TV commercial with the back-end depth of a Web site to maximize the message’s breadth and impact.

Using speeding, crashing cars and a simple but effective cliffhanger, the marketer catapulted waves of TV-viewing consumers directly into a rich Web environment, where its product was presented as an enveloping physical experience.

The TV component was a 30-second spot that aired midway through the Feb. 1 game’s second quarter. Announcing itself as an “Accident Avoidance Test,” the commercial features a Mitsubishi Galant GTS and a Toyota Camry XLE racing down a turnpike at high speeds. In front of them, from the open doors of two tractor trailers moving at equally high speeds, technicians unloose equal kinds of junk at both cars: bowling balls, Weber barbecue grills, full trash cans and, finally, two junk cars that hit the highway and upend as both test vehicles carom directly toward them.

The TV spot ends right there with a teaser directing interested viewers to go to “”

High traffic

And during the next 28 hours more than 170,000 unique visitors flocked to the special Web site to follow the final half of the demolition derby-like saga. From Feb. 3-5, the site continued to log an average of about 40,000 unique visitors a day.

A video on shows the Galant and Camry swerving wildly as their drivers frantically try to avoid the upending hulks as well as large chunks of debris spewing on impact.

In the end, the Toyota pulls to the side of the road while the Galant continues to zigzag through the 60-mile-an-hour flying debris field.

A tagline tells Web viewers, “It’s not a commercial. It’s the ultimate performance test.” Web viewers were also offered a large button to click to “Explore the Gallant,” taking them into dense sections of vivid graphics illustrating the car’s features.

Multiple ad views

The number of unique visitors to this special site in the first 24 hours after the spot aired equaled a month’s worth of unique visitors to the auto marketer’s site. Even more dramatic was that two-thirds of the visitors viewed the online 50-second video commercial two or more times, said Ian Beavis, senior vice president of marketing at Mitsubishi.

He said Mitsubishi couldn’t afford to run a 50-second spot during the Super Bowl, but “here I got people seeing that spot twice because they wanted to.”

Citing competitive considerations, he declined to give traffic specifics, but ComScore Media Metrix said received 170,000 unique visitors throughout the day after the Super Bowl.

Mr. Beavis said the number of Web visitors who requested brochures, checked the dealer locator or read the brand’s new-vehicle warranty in one day equaled the normal monthly figures for the same consumer engagement activities on

Plans more cliffhanger ads Mr. Beavis said the company’s TV/Web tactic was considered so successful that Mitsubishi plans to continue the “cliffhanger idea” for other commercials as part of a new marketing strategy.

Mr. Beavis said also got a spike in traffic after the cliffhanger aired during the TV broadcast last week of the film Gladiator on ABC. Deutsch created a Galant print ad that ran in USA Today the day after the Super Bowl, reminding consumers to check out the Web site.

The power of TV ads to drive consumers to rich Web extensions of the same message was also evident by the whopping jump in traffic experienced on, the site for the Bayer/GlaxoSmithKline erectile-dysfunction drug. According to ComScore, logged a 1,868% increase in Web traffic right after the game — the biggest of any Super Bowl advertiser. That’s despite the wide critical panning by industry pundits of the marketer’s debut TV ad.

Other marketers’ Web traffic

ComScore Media Metrix compared Web traffic on Super Bowl Sunday to the average of the four prior Sundays to account for the percentage change. After Cialis, the next-highest jump was at 593%, which benefited from the PepsiCo spot promoting free Internet music downloads. Next was H&R Block, with a 258% rise. Rounding out the top 10 were (a 190% jump); (139%); (94%); (72%); (19%); (8%); and (6%). Cialis’ rival on the Super Bowl, Eli Lilly and Icos Corp.’s Levitra, didn’t make the top 10.

Even historical Super Bowl ads brought people to the Web on Jan. 31, when more than 200,000 viewers watching the live TV special Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials on CBS went online to vote for their favorite spots at either or

~ ~ ~ Rich Thomaselli contributed to this report.