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Quote from Finbar O'Neill, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America as published on the last page of the 4/26 issue of AutoWeek in reference to why Mitsubishi pulled out of rallying in North America: "Unfortunately when you go to a rally race here, by and large it's you and three bears."

This statement is probably not surprising in light of the fact that Finbar O'Neil also pulled the plug on the Hyundai rally program when he was CEO there before jumping ship to Mitsubishi. This guy is starting to look like public enemy number one for rally in the U.S. The Ace of Spades so to speak.

Mr. O'Neil obviously never drug his sorry ass out of his office and traveled up the road a few miles to the Rim of The World Rally to see the tremendous turn out they have had over the last few years, even with last year's abysmal weather conditions. And apparently he has not bothered to look at the TV and print media coverage that Rally has gotten over the past 2 years with the factory teams competing.

I suspect that Mitsubishi spent about $3M on their rally campaign last year. Although not a bargain, I am sure they recouped that in TV and print exposure alone. Then there is the whole issue of image and brand building. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, etc. I know that is hard to measure, but auto manufacturers have been doing it for almost as long as they have been building cars, so it must work.

If you have any comments or suggestions you can address them to:

Finbar O'Neill
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
PO Box 6016
Cypress, CA 90630

I also suggest you vote with your wallet. If you have been thinking about buying a new WRX STi or an EVO, remember that Subaru only pulled out because Mitsubishi did and they are still supporting rally on a number of levels. Besides, if Mitsubishi goes bust, as some are predicting, your 10 year warranty on your EVO is not going to mean squat.
 

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So, here we have an auto company that has supported rally for long enough to garner Tommi Makinen four World Championships; a company that has supported US rallying for at least 15 years through contingency and parts programs; a company that has revived its WRC program, even though it is in financial trouble; a company which now finds itself fighting for its very existence. What should be our response? Apparently, the selfish among us would have us all don our size twelves and join in kicking the beast whilst it is in a weakened state. Perhaps the rest of us will wish Mitsubishi a speedy recovery and eventual return to our sport. Perhaps, should circumstance arise, we might even lend such support and thanks with our wallets.
 

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I do have to wonder how many rallies Mr. O'Neill attended in the US to come up with this assessment.

I have to admit he's a lucky guy. I've been going to US rallies for 20 years and I haven't seen a bear yet.
 

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His comments are excessivly negative, but business is business, and rally is not usually good business in the US. I appreciate what they've put into rally in the past. Mitsu has bigger problems now, time to buy an EVO while I still can... ;)
 

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>I do have to wonder how many rallies Mr. O'Neill attended in
>the US to come up with this assessment.
>
>I have to admit he's a lucky guy. I've been going to US
>rallies for 20 years and I haven't seen a bear yet.

I believe the only rally Finbar ever attended was Cherokee trails the first year it was a national. Noel Lawler convinced him to come, but he did not stay long.
 

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His incredibly negative comments are a bit too much in this case. Simply put he expects to see WRC or BRC level crowds for a sport that even the manufacturers with factory teams don't try to promote in the mainstream. Mitsubishi did a lot for rally in North America, nobody can really argue against that. But, you knew there had to be a but, how long did mitsubishi run their ads in their EVO campaign that had any rally footage in them, a couple months. And in that 15-30 second ad there was maybe 4 at best 5 seconds of rally footage? Has mitsubishi done anything to promote its rally team besides a couple extravaganzas that go largely un publicized at the events themselves?

Mitsubishi dished out a lot of money for them for their rally team, they then expected it to just draw people and money to them and did little to use that team to promote themselves. They might have kicked in money for TV, but why not use some US rallying footage in an Ad, or put some pictures from an event as a one page ad in some import magazines?

Mitsubishi never seemed to try to use its team to promote itself outside of the rally community. Mitsubishi never seemed to realize what US rally was or was becoming either.....


Edit to add:


Heck NissanUSA has virtually no involvement with the Dakar rally raid program but even they had a link on their mainpage when the Dakar was running, never saw that on Mitsubishis page, so either I missed it or it wasn't there.
 

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RE: What goes around...............

Today Daimler/Chrysler announced that they are selling all their Mitsubishi shares, which means Mitsubishi will be close to being flat broke. Upon this announcement Daimler/Chrysler shares gained in the stock market. Obviously this chap is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he was the mastermind behind the suicidal 0% interrest and no payment for umpteen months fiasco which cost the company so much that they will probably be in the red for the next 5 years.

On the other hand, the word in the street is that neither the Japanese Government nor Mitsubishi Japan were happy with Daimler/Chrysler's share proportion (51%), they were looking at the situation as a rather shameful exception considering no foreign group owns majority shares in a Japanese company. Rumour is that the Japanes Government and the Sogo Shosha may step up to the plate and fund the reacquisition of the shares.

In any event the owner of the unfortunate comments will soon be looking for a new job.

I don't want to say it but I'd explode if I didn't;

Couldn't have happened to a better numbskull.

Cheers
M.Samli
 

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>I believe the only rally Finbar ever attended was Cherokee
>trails the first year it was a national. Noel Lawler
>convinced him to come, but he did not stay long.

TONGUE-IN-CHEEK ---ON--- :9
Well, then it's clearly John & Kendall's fault that both Hyundai and Mitsubishi have pulled out of stateside rallying - had they kept those three damned bears coralled ...

or at least out of sight ...

:+

Halley ...
ProRally #86
http://www.realautosport.com
 

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Toni asked me to post this:


The quote regarding the bear did not originate with Fin -- he was repeating a statement made by a dealer who preferred sports car racing to rallying. Unfortunately, Fin chose to repeat the comment. Fin did attend the rally at Cherokee Trails. There were so many obstacles to good spectating that year that he really did not get a real flavor for the sport. If I recall, spectators were held captive on stages and forced to stay in the same area during the rally, without water, food or rest rooms. That is hardly a good testiment to spectator friendly nature of the sport! Even if he'd been predesposed to the sport, he could easily have been turned off by that experience. In addition, Noel Lawler crashed heavily the day prior to Fin's arrival, which also cast a palor on the event.

As the motorsports manager for Hyundai Motor America, the decision to discontinue the rally program at the end of the 2002 season impacted me greatly. Howevever, from a purely business standpoint, I cannot fault the decision.

On another note, Fin is not responsible for the current situation at Mitsubishi. He inherited the problems when he took the position last August. Rather than bash him and his decision to retreat from rallying in the short-term, we can only hope that the company enjoys a major turnaround and is eventually able to return to the sport.


T. Honsowetz
National Manager, Corporate Communications
Hyundai Motor America
 
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Finbar O'Neill got it just about right: "You and three bears."

A handful of enthusiasts in the woods that show at most US rallies does not count for any business, automotive or non-automotive, that must market its products or services to millions of Americans in order to survive. The same goes for TV coverage.

Let us admit it: This is the legacy of the way US rallying has been publicized, marketed and managed for decades while rallying in the rest of the world grew over the same period to be one of the most popular spectator sports.

Not so long ago, official press releases of a sanctioning body used to start with: "Even though rallying in the United States will never ......" and luminaries of US rallying went on the record saying that the conditions in the United States were not suitable for rallying.

I happen to believe that we have an excellent opportunity and suitable conditions for rapid and massive expansion of the sport of rallying in the United States. In order to achieve that, the sport must be publicized, marketed and managed properly.
 

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<The quote regarding the bear did not originate with Fin -- he was repeating a statement made by a dealer who preferred sports car racing to rallying>

Maybe he can't think for himself. I for one, would rather not have this guy around any rallies here, but if Mitsubishi survives,they are more than welcome. Wonder if the size of his bonuses had any bearing on why these two companies pulled out? (Tongue in cheek!)
 

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Hmmm.

As I have read it he takes control at Hyundai and bails on US Rally. Then he moved to Mitsubishi and bails on US Rally. He makes (or repeats) an obviously negative comment on US Rally.

I wouldnt bet on seeing Mitsu back in US Rally so long as he is around.


By the way, I think that Mitsubishi (and Hyundai) have failed miserably to take any advantage of their rally success via the advertising medium. As a consumer I cannot remember any ads featuring either company's product in a rally.

If they didnt get the return they wanted from rally, they have themselves to blame, not US rally.
 

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RE: What goes around...............

>On the other hand, the word in the street is that neither
>the Japanese Government nor Mitsubishi Japan were happy with
>Daimler/Chrysler's share proportion (51%), they were looking
>at the situation as a rather shameful exception considering
>no foreign group owns majority shares in a Japanese company.

I do believe Ford owns a majority share of Mazda. Not sure how
much of Isuzu is owned by GM, but it's probably too much.

Back on topic... you have to wonder why the Evo8 is so popular here
in the US - I am seeing them *everywhere* and that's pretty remarkable
for a car that expensive. (Maybe my proximity to Buschur Racing has
something to do with it?) It can't just be Initial D(*), hmm maybe it
has to do with lots of kids who have read the WRC articles in Sport
Compact Car, and have watched numerous rally compilation videos they
found on various websites/filesharing networks?

(*) Initial D is a somewhat hokey Japanese anime series about a kid
driving his dad's Corolla GT-S highly sideways around the streets of
his hometown, street racing other people and never losing... including
one "club" who drove nothing but Lancer Evolutions. I find it to be
quite enjoyable... the technical blunders and poor Japanese-English
translations (or better, Japanese-Cantonese-English) make it a million
laughs.
 

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Agreed. "...you and three bears" is a reason not to get into US rallying in the first place, not a reason not to continue. If only I could get my boss to give me $X million dollars to go play in the woods, especially if he thought it wasn't such a good idea.

On the specifics of Mitsubishi's marketing, spending money promoting a car that is already selling so fast some dealers don't have one for months doesn't make any sense. Mitsubishi really doesn't have to market the Evo, but they could probably use some help with the base and Ralliart Lancers. There is an interview with David Richards that I saw once where he talks at great length about using a motorsport program to build product credibility. I think this is where Mitsubishi really blew it. Mitsubishi is absolutely dominant in rally raids, and most Americans have some idea of what the Dakar Rally is, but Mitsubishi dealers here don't even mention it. Even though they don't sell 2-dr Pajeros, they sell something close, and that kind of association with authentic off-road vehicles is the reason why people pay good money for a Chevy Tahoe with ugly body work relabeled a Hummer H2. A creative marketing person should be able to make the link between the Evo and the base Lancer. Heck, Ford has managed to pull this off to some extent, and the WRC Focus has about as much in common with my Focus as it does with my truck.

--
John
 

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>There is an interview with David Richards that I
>saw once where he talks at great length about using a
>motorsport program to build product credibility.

Read "Sports Sponsorship and Brand Development : The Subaru and Jaguar Stories"


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...55956/sr=11-1/ref=sr_11_1/103-1239465-0815020


In this text you will learn that Prodrive, yes Prodrive, the same Prodrive that hires hundreds of engineers and is known for their engineering accomplishments in motorsport and has branched out into the realm of engineering services for OEMs (I hear their ads on WJR in Detroit all the time) is NOT an engineering company.

Their mission statement: "To provide a commercial and marketing platform for the successful promotion of clients."

Prodrive is a marketing company. Not that that's bad, it just took me by surprise. It explains their rise to power and growth in that the money is in the winning, and the engineering is a necessary component of winning.

You have to admit that since they started rallying, Subarus have gone from the car that is "inexpensive and built to stay that way," to a brand immediately associated with a sporting image.
 

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The story of Prodrive is a very fascinating one about market niche and meeting it. Its actually on the sylabus on a class I want to take.


Its hard to argue the Mitsubishi did the most to maximize its investment in US ProRally. There are a coupel dealerships around me that can't keep EVO8s in stock but they can't sell them at any mark up either. They also aren't selling all that many lancers, oz rally lancers, and ralliarts. They complain that this isn't what the eclipse used to be, everybody would so want the turbo awd eclipse they would buy the "lesser" eclipses to catch some over shine on the limelight given to the AWD turbo eclipses.


I really believe Mitsubishi was wrong to have a rally team and not try to really promote the team and their success. Lets face it spanking Subaru for most of the season would have been a pretty juicy marketing campaign....
 

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I don't know what else to say other than that his companies actions do seem to reflect his statements exactly.


As harsh as it sounds, perhaps its true and a strong change in the way we market ourselves needs to change.


I for one, have been trying to suggest new venues and events to promote rallying in the united states


IMO, it isn't that people don't like. Its that most people have never HEARD OF RALLY.


Dumb comments, yes. Unfounded lies, not at all.
 
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