Back to the ’80s: Mitsubishi and Clemenger BBDO’s drive down memory lane

At first glance, using old ads for a new campaign seems like an easy option. But the story behind Mitsubishi and Clemenger BBDO’s campaign to celebrate the return of the Mirage proves that theory wrong. 

“When Mitsubishi told us they were bringing back the Mirage it was a dream come true,” says executive creative director Philip Andrew. “We immediately bought an original 1982 Mirage Panther and Mitsubishi began the process of restoring it.”

Going above and beyond, group account director Brendan McElroy drove the beast down from Auckland and, when the above picture was taken, he “was calling Duster to ask whether I should be worried about the smell of petrol”. 

Next the agency made contact with Nigel Hutchison, the director from Motion Pictures who shot the original ads, and asked him if he’d kept any of his old reels.

Hutchison lives in the Malborough Sounds these days, but a few days later he turned up at the agency with some dusty old U-Matic tapes. And on those tapes were three of the original Mirage ads. 

“We then learnt from our client that years ago when car building closed at Todd Park in Porirua someone had the foresight to collect up all the memorabilia from the era and send it all off in crates to the Porirua Museum for safe keeping. A few years later the museum ran out of room to store it all so sent it back to Mitsubishi at Todd Park.”

The crates were put into a corner of the now disused factory, covered in a tarp and forgotten about. So actually finding the old material ended up being quite difficult (due to the lack of institutional memory in this industry, the Back Then section in NZ Marketing is always surprisingly hard to fill, as many brands and agencies simply don’t know where their old material is). But Mitsubishi’s Reece Congdon and McElroy pulled a tarp off a bunch of crates and inside they struck gold, with the original brochures, a few mag ads, artwork and reel after reel of TV ads. 

“From that point on we had our campaign,” Andrew says. 






The old ads are running with minor changes where needed. And Andrew says people are loving both the campaign—which included a great wrap of the NZ Woman’s Weekly that McElroy says worked very welland the new Mirage. 

McElroy says sales stats are a bit sensitive, but “they nearly sold out of stock in March and had to quickly get on the phone to Japan, so it’s selling very well”. 

Overseas, the Mirage was called the Colt. And while McElroy says the old crates discovered in Porirua didn’t offer much in the way of print ads, there’s no shortage of quality international material, with a particular favourite being the Colt fashion ad. 


About Author

Comments are closed.