When car ads go bad: 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer

When car ads go bad: 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer

The Mitsubishi team upped the ante with a pair of ads that not only made no sense but made the Toyota ones from last week look like they were written by Fred Nile.

Last week I covered two well-made but ultimately very silly and alarmingly saucy Corolla ads.

The theme is, again, suggesting that the product a car company is selling might be rather more exciting than it actually is. Not all bad car ads are like that, but we’ve got a pair of doozies today.

Mitsubishi threw caution to the wind for 2000 and 2001 with a pair of TV spots for the ho-hum Lancer that made me double-check if they were real.

2000 Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X

Obviously, we all understand that saying, “Here’s a steel-wheeled Lancer, it’s cheap and easy to live with, buy it,” isn’t going to work. But this…


“Get a dressed-up Lancer VR-X with 15-inch alloy wheels.”

This ad is in trouble from the get-go. Starting with a woman “dressing up” for a night out, you’re treated to several shots of the terminally uninspiring special edition Lancer on sale at the time. And plenty of leery hidden camera-type stuff in between.

Screaming, “Get wild” at you while guitars and drums screech a similar sentiment, it was probably out-of-date before it was even conceived. The values seem to hark back to when the model in the ad was conceived.

This is one of those pitches that made a few blokes in Mitsubishi Australia’s Adelaide offices fairly hot under the collar. You can guarantee the ad got green-lit on condition those sweaty blokes got to be at the shoot.

The idea that a very hum-drum car is “wild” isn’t the ad’s biggest problem. Outdated, leery sexism and overt sexualisation of a product (a car), this one ticks all the boxes.

I mean, everyone I knew who owned one of these was over 60. So the ad didn’t even work. And it makes me sea-sick.

2001 Mitsubishi Lancer – Lancer Girl

The next year the ad for the Lancer coupe (rather than the VR-X spec) was a little less frantic but no less creepy.


The ad team returned to the girl-getting-dressed theme. From a cinematographic perspective, it’s a far less annoying ad because it isn’t so hyperactively edited.

However, the fact that the ad actually had a narrative rather than looking like a cam-girl promo was a step up. Pity the director didn’t think through the “comedy.”

Lancer Girl strides out past her parents. Dad looks suitably agog but lets her go. Then the big twist – he sticks his head out the window to forbid her going out in the mild child Lancer. Harking back to the old Sandman with a “don’t bother knocking” sticker vibe.

This would have been way funnier if Dad was fine until he realised she was going out in the Lancer, because that’s unexpected. The fact he looks mad about the outfit and then uses the car as an excuse seems like a comedic own-goal.

Either way, the crass use of skin was never going to make this handsome, well-built but ultimately very dull car seem any cooler. At least we didn’t see the hub-capped version in a desperate attempt to link the two.

WRC Championship Ad – 2000

Mitsubishi almost pulled it out of the fire with this visually clever ad linking its formidable World Rally Championship success with the boring road cars (Evo excepted). Have a watch and tell me what absolutely destroyed the hard work of the storyboard team.


It’s bad enough you go from a winged WRC Lancer Evo out in the dust and then switch to a hub-capped sedan. I mean, that’s bad but I guess that’s the version that sold by the thousands.

I mean at least it wasn’t crass to look at. So they went with a crass soundtrack instead. I just can’t even imagine how big the pile of cocaine was before and after someone said, “I’ve got it! Kids today really love a 20 year-old Joe Dolce track!”

Would they get away with today?

The first two? Hell no. They’re terrible.

The third one, maybe, although some idiot would write in to complain about cars being driven fast on TV or not keeping a safe distance behind.

Are they worse than the ill-fated “It’s a Mitsi”? Difficult decision…