Marching to a Different Drum

June 15, 2005
I'm not a big fan of commercial television. Actually, I can't stand most commercials, and the typical TV auto ad tops my list. They all seem so much alike: sweeping panoramas with cars racing along curvy roads. So when the new Mitsubishi Eclipse spot, with its infectious Taiko drumming, came along, I was captivated. Those not familiar with Taiko can go here for some background on this 2000-year-old musical art form some liken to "rolling thunder." The Eclipse intro spot has been one of the most popular on the air, according to

A second spot will hit the airwaves shortly, and should generate a few laughs. It will also underscore one of the critical elements of the initial ad: Mitsubishi's Japanese heritage. "That's something...our competitors have walked away from," contends Dave Schembri, the new marketing czar at Mitsubishi Motors North America. He may have a point, considering all the ads and PR spin we hear from the likes of Toyota, Honda and Nissan, promoting their U.S. assembly lines, made-for-America products, and the like. I'd be willing to bet there are plenty of young motorists who don't even know these companies are headquartered overseas.

But no matter how loudly you bang the -- Taiko -- drum, there's more than a little irony to the Mitsubishi campaign. Yes, there's a classic Japanese feel to the 2006, fourth-generation Eclipse, but it was styled in California, is being built in Illinois, and won't even be sold in Japan.

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