Mitsubishi Electriphobia

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (SILVER)

Client Credits: Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada
Peter Renz - Director, National Marketing
Shauna Barker - Manager, Advertising
John Arnone - Manager, Public Relations
Ryan Geary - Manager, Marketing

Agency Credits: john st.
Ian Brooks - Group Account Director
Sarah Frackowiack - Account Supervisor
Alison Williams - Account Coordinator
Samantha Tom - Account Coordinator
Angus Tucker - Co-Creative Director
Stephen Jurisic - Co-Creative Director
Keri Zierler - Copywriter
Hannah Smit - Art Director
Kurt Mills - Copywriter
Kyle Lamb - Art Director
Lorrie Zwer - Digital Producer
Alisa Pellizari - Print Producer
Dana Drummond - Print Producer
Jason Last - Senior Brand Planner
Leshanne Pretty - Digital Planner
Manon Varin - Director of Project Management (HeadSpace Marketing)
Caroline Legault-Forest - Project Manager (HeadSpace Marketing)
Charles Bournival - Copywriter (HeadSpace marketing)
Jose Moreira - Strategy Supervisor (OMD)
Jonathan Davies - Assistant Strategist (OMD)
Sean Perkins - Associate Director, Digital Technologies (OMD)
Alex Papas - Assistant Digital Strategist (OMD)
Lesley Pelton - Broadcast Supervisor (
Mark Hyndman - Broadcast Buyer (OMD)

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What a Brand Stands For.
Crossover Note 7. Fighting for the Same High Ground.
Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight
Crossover Note 22. Humour in a Serious Category.
Crossover Note 27. Share of Mind, Share of Voice, Spending.
Crossover Note 28. Media Learning.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Shock Therapy.mp4 (97 MB)
Silent TReatment.mp4 (115 MB)
tailpatch.mp4 (2 MB)

Attached Files

Newspaper DPS.pdf (4 MB)

Total 1760 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):April 13, 2012 - July 2nd, 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: April 13th, 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: November 2011 - March 2012

a) Overall Assessment

The electric vehicle or EV market (and the bigger “eco” vehicle market that includes hybrids like the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight) is a crowded category that’s been getting a lot of attention in recent years as environmental concerns and the price of gas have risen sharply.

Even though Mitsubishi has been developing EV technology for nearly 40 years in Japan, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf have owned the conversation surrounding EV’s in North America. And the general tone of that conversation has been earnest “save the world” type messaging.

The launch of the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) would be Mitsubishi’s first foray into the EV segment in Canada.

We needed to carve out a unique identity for the i-MiEV while arriving late to an already quite crowded party. [Crossover Note 1]

We couldn’t rely on the “news” value of it (the Volt and the Leaf had already beaten us to that party) and we couldn’t spend our way out of the problem: the i-MiEV’s launch budget was tiny by new car launch standards. We had $1.1 million – a 10th of Chevy’s budget for the Volt, based on the media spend reports provided by Nielsen. 

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The success of the launch would be determined by:

  1. Earned media impressions,
  2. Site visits,
  3. Social engagement,
  4. Sales.

We set a goal of 43,000 site visits from April 13th to July 13th based on an industry average of 3% of the paid media impressions in print, TV billboards, and digital. We estimated that 10% of these visitors (4,300) would take action (that is, visit the site and watch/interact with at least one ‘therapy’ that they found there). We also hoped that same 10% would share the campaign through social media.

Finally, Mitsubishi hoped to increase sales to 20 i-MiEV’s per month, on par with the Nissan Leaf.

c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area
Canada - National

a) Analysis and Insight

The target for the i-MiEV was ‘greens’ - educated, urban adults with a higher then average income and education, who were familiar with and embraced new technology. They were consumers who cared about the environment and let that affect their purchase behavior. 

But ‘green-ness’ was table stakes in the EV market. Every EV (and hybrid) vehicle was ‘green’. It was neither differentiating nor newsworthy. [Crossover Note 7]

But when we scratched the surface of the target’s initial interest in “eco” cars, we found something we didn’t expect: anxiety. Tons of it.

Even though most green consumers were interested in the electric car, they were very, very anxious about buying one – How do you charge it? What is its range? Where do you charge it? Does it drive like a golf cart? Can it electrocute you? (Seriously, some people thought that.)

We knew we had to get people over these fears if they were to try the i-MiEV, much less buy it. [Crossover Note 11]

So we gave those fears a name – Electriphobia – and we created a way to cure it: The Electriphobia Research Institute.

b) Communication Strategy was the hub of the wheel – a microsite designed to address the real fears people had with electric cars (and a number of their silly ones as well).

Our intent with the site was edu-tainment: educate our consumer about the i-MiEV but entertain them as well to increase engagement, buzz and shares. [Crossover Note 22]

We used online ads, rich media banners, targeted newspaper in urban dailies like Metro, PR and an experiential event at the Green Living Show in Toronto to launch the campaign. All media drove traffic to

Once users got to the site, they were encouraged to explore the “highly scientific” treatments available for each of their fears of the about the electric car. For example:

  •   “Shock Therapy” cured subject’s fear of being electrocuted by the i-MiEV (by electrocuting him with everything else in the room)
  • “Mapnotherapy” alleviated their range anxiety by mapping how far the i-MiEV goes on a single charge (and how many times they could drive to work and back).
  • The “Gripe-O-Matic” generated other topics for them to complain about (since they wouldn’t be griping about the price of gas anymore).

After each therapy was completed, their “patient chart” would be updated (and posted on Facebook) and they would receive useful information about the i-MiEV.

Three films (“Shock Therapy”, “Tailpatch” and “Silent Treatment”) were placed online (in “short-form” teasers), and were seeded with automotive journalists and bloggers) to encourage interest and drive the target to

a) Media Used

We used digital ads, targeted newspaper in urban dailies like Metro, PR and an experiential event at the Green Living Show in Toronto to launch the campaign. All media drove traffic to

The digital buy included a YouTube masthead, a teaser video on YouTube pre-roll, Facebook video ads, and conventional banner ads.

In Metro, we used a non-traditional buy that spoke of a mysterious (insert tongue-in-cheek) new phobia that was sweeping the nation. Banners on the front cover pushed readers to a DPS that spoke of this new fear: Electriphobia, and its impact on Canadians.  

Closed captioning on TV and geo-targeted door hangers were also used. Even these elements drove people to

To launch the campaign, we did a live event at the Green Living Show in Toronto and Montreal where “scientists” from the Electriphobia Research Institute spoke to how the i-MiEV could alleviate any EV anxiety.

b) Creative Discussion

The tone of the creative work was essential.

We wanted to veer away from the earnestness of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. Partly to differentiate ourselves from them but also to say quite clearly that this vehicle was fun to drive, not just responsible to drive.

Mitsubishi is a younger, more spirited brand and even though it was an electric vehicle, it had to represent the corporate brand.

The cheeky tone of the electriphobia campaign reflected these values.

c) Media Discussion

New car launches, even in the digital age, make liberal use of traditional media like TV, radio, and national print.

Indeed, Chevy put over $10 million in TV and print media alone to launch the Volt. And the Nissan Leaf ran a TV ad during the Super Bowl in 2011 that featured a Polar Bear walking from the North Pole to Southern California to thankfully hug a Leaf driver in his driveway.

To rely largely on earned media was a gamble that Mitsubishi was willing to take – and largely had to take as the budget for the launch was not even close to the usual for its competitors. [Crossover Note 28]

We bet that if we could come up with an idea that was different enough and compelling enough, we could earn the attention we couldn’t buy. [Crossover Note 27]

a) Sales/Share Results

The campaign over-delivered in every sense.

In the first two months, the site received +200,000 visits (450% above forecast), engaged 60,000 of those visitors and was shared by 6,490 people on Facebook and Twitter. The average time spent on the site was 1:20.

Write-ups in major newspapers like the Globe and Mail, the Star, and National Post, garnered millions of earned media impressions and the campaign was featured on respected sites like Auto Trader,, and Autos 123. Even better, and were taken over by discussion surrounding the campaign.

The campaign was picked up by Mitsubishi US and other global affiliates and Electriphobia, a made up word, now returns 26,500 results on Google!

Critically, the campaign has influenced purchase of the i-MiEV. In just two months, 6,400 people clicked through to the Mitsubishi corporate website for more information and 1,231 people have clicked to find an i-MiEV dealer or book an i-MiEV test-drive.

And lastly, with 22 cars sold in April, 26 in May, and 21 in June, the i-MiEV has outsold the Leaf for the past 2 months in a row.

With half the Leaf’s budget. 

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Other than the Electriphobia campaign, no other promotions were supporting the i-MiEV during this period.

Versus its chief competitor, the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi is outpaced in actual dealerships (only 40 Mitsubishi dealerships sell the i-MiEV vs. roughly 200 Nissan dealerships), spending, brand presence and years in the market. Further, the i-MiEV had no halo momentum from the corporate brand – and knowing the importance of brand loyalty in the automotive category, selling an electric vehicle with little master-brand equity made the job even more difficult. 

Prior to the campaign, social media measurement demonstrated virtually NO discussion on the i-MiEV.  The dramatic jump in Google search results after a mere 4 weeks in market demonstrates the power of the campaign.  

 The increased traffic to made the number two source of traffic to the corporate website – ahead of search, Facebook, and other concurrent campaigns (it was only behind YouTube, where a number of the Electriphobia videos were also located).

The campaign even piqued the interest of jaded automotive journalists. Write-ups in major newspapers like the Globe and Mail, National Post called the campaign “a breath of fresh air” and garnered millions of earned media impressions.

Mitsubishi not only entered the EV conversation, they began to lead it, with headlines declaring “Quirky i-MiEV ads bring ‘cool’ factor to electric cars” and “it will likely end up taking a top spot next to other clever recent EV ad offerings, including Nissan’s.”

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Based on their media spend in 2011, it can be safely assumed that all of the competitive car manufacturers were outspending the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

In 2011, the Chevrolet Volt had a media spend of $12.28 million, and the Nissan Leaf had a media spend of $2.1million. Both of those media budgets do not include digital. Comparatively, the media spend behind the i-MiEV (including digital) was only $900,000.


The price difference between the i-MiEV and other electric cars is insignificant.

While the Nissan Leaf has an MSRP of $38,395 versus the i-MiEV at $32,998, with some provincial incentives, customers actually get more money back for the Leaf than the i-MiEV.

All federal government rebates offered are equivalent for any electric car. 

Distribution Changes:

There were no additional channels of distribution available for the i-MiEV during launch.

In fact, the vehicle had been available for purchase in Mitsubishi dealerships since November 2011, six months prior to the campaign launch. 

Unusual Promotional Activity:

There was no additional promotion activity on the i-MiEV during the time period. In fact, in an industry where consumers prefer to lease (60% of transactions in Canada are leases), Mitsubishi is highly disadvantaged, as it does NOT offer leasing.

Other Potential Causes:

There were none to speak of (eg. governmental rebates, environmental changes) that had any bearing on the case.