Road Romance
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Road Romance

For the first time in its history, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America committed to launching a consumer marketing/public relations program to further fuel its national “cool cars for cool people” advertising campaign aimed at young, active professionals.

Paul Holmes


For the first time in its history, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America committed to launching a consumer marketing/public relations program to further fuel its national “cool cars for cool people” advertising campaign aimed at young, active professionals.  To attract this savvy target audience and create a strong media hook, our approach was to launch a nationwide campaign by leveraging a “drive-by flirting” trend.  Calling our campaign the “Mitsubishi Search for Road Romantics,” we were able to identify a fun, newsworthy idea that simultaneously played off the company’s sexy marketing positioning by asking people to share with us their own stories of “cruisin’ together.”  Rolled-out in tandem with the advertising launch of Mitsubishi’s 2001 Eclipse Spyder sports convertible, the campaign’s goal was to seek out real-life stories of romance that were first ignited in a car. 


Our greatest challenge was to grab press and consumer attention for Mitsubishi’s new car beyond the automotive trade press.  Stanton Crenshaw was challenged to come up with a fun, compelling concept to drive interaction between Mitsubishi consumers and the general media.  Our idea would only work with an engaging platform that consumers could relate to and simultaneously integrate the brand and product.


Stanton Crenshaw sought to capitalize on the idea that consumer confidence can be buoyed based on the type of car they drive.  By associating the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder with style, affection and attractiveness, we knew we could reach our target audience, generate press interest and coverage and help influence sales.  

What follows are the key messages that were agreed upon and used as the backbone for the campaign:

Message #1 -- A stylish car can definitely turn heads.  It can even influence the start of a romantic relationship. The road to romance may start the moment you jump behind the wheel of an attractive car.

Message #2 -- Being behind the wheel of a cool, stylish car can embolden the driver. It bolsters our feelings of confidence and attractiveness.  

Message #3 -- The kind of car you drive sends a certain message. A car’s “cool factor” reflects who’s behind the wheel.

Message #4 -- How we look and feel in our cars is important to each of us, and Mitsubishi’s products are uniquely suited to help consumers look and feel alive and cool behind the wheel.


  • Bring brand character and product advertising to life
  • Achieve substantial brand visibility and coverage in consumer media
  • Provoke positive interest and excitement by consumers and media alike
  • Deliver commercial messages in credible context
  • Create visual opportunities to further enhance brand and product


Following is our program’s three-pronged approach:

We fielded a consumer survey that explored the phenomenon of road romance and served as newsworthy, original research to create our contest scope and agenda. 

Once announced in a national pitching effort, the contest invited consumers to share their real-life experiences about seeing or meeting someone while driving a great-looking car, or being drawn to another driver because his or her car is stylish or cool. 

For compelling visuals, we held a “roadside ceremony” honoring the contest winners and their affinity for romance on the road.   Held in Washington D.C., just prior to the big July 4th driving weekend, the ceremony featured our winners dressed in wedding outfits next to the Eclipse Spyder and a wedding cake in its shape against the backdrop of the newly refurbished Washington Monument.


Fifty million impressions, delivered via more than 26 local television segments, 43 local newspaper features and 9 national wire and radio stories.

Three out of four priority messages were clearly and consistently delivered in more than 75% of the news attention.

$160,000 value as advertising, without message quality measured or factored in.


Primarily targeting consumer/lifestyle/features writers, we conducted aggressive media outreach to national and major market broadcast and print outlets.  Notably, much of the publicity - - TV placements, in particular - - included very prominent mentions and/or visuals of the 2001 Mitsubishi  Eclipse Spyder via b-roll distribution.  On June 29, 2001, newscasts in 13 major markets featured a piece on the “Road Romance” campaign.  Publicity highlights include USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, NY Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Scripps Howard, Gannett and Copley News Services, as well as broadcast segments in 20 markets across the country, totaling 80 minutes of unpaid broadcast advertising time and approximately 50 million impressions.  Following is a list of broadcast placements we received in a one week period:
CBS Newspath (national newsfeed) 6/29; various times throughout day; WJXT (CBS, Jacksonville) 7/6; 5 p.m. newscast; WJXT (CBS, Jacksonville) 7/6; 5:30 p.m. newscast; KOVR (CBS, Sacramento) 7/10; 6 p.m. newscast; KOIN (CBS, Portland) 7/10; 6 p.m. newscast; WSB (ABC, Atlanta) 6/29; 5 p.m. newscast; WUSA (CBS, Washington) 6/29; 4 p.m. newscast; WFOR (CBS, Miami) 6/29; 5:30 p.m. newscast; KUTV (CBS, Salt Lake City) 7/3; 12 p.m. newscast; KHTV (CBS, Little Rock) 6/30; 5 a.m. newscast; WSYX (ABC, Columbus) 6/28; 6 p.m. newscast; WTTE (FOX, Columbus) 6/28; 9 p.m. newscast; WTTE (FOX, Columbus) 6/28; 10 p.m. newscast; KOLR (CBS, Springfield) 6/29; 10 p.m. newscast; KCOY (CBS, Santa Barbara) 6/29; 12 p.m. newscast; KCOY (CBS, Santa Barbara) 6/29; 4 p.m. newscast; KCOY (CBS, Santa Barbara) 6/29; 5 p.m. newscast; WWL (CBS, New Orleans) 6/30; 5-8 a.m. newscast; KHOU (CBS, Houston) 6/29; 5 p.m. newscast; KDKA (CBS, Pittsburgh) 6/29; 11 p.m. newscast; WWMT (CBS, Grand Rapids) 6/29; 5 p.m. newscast; WIVB (CBS, Buffalo) 6/29; 5 p.m. newscast; WREG (CBS, Memphis) 6/29; 4:30 p.m. newscast

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