Traditionally, automakers spend the majority of their marketing budgets on advertising new cars through traditional formats such as television adverts, billboards and glossy adverts in magazines. 

But Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has chosen to buck the trend, focusing a huge amount of its advertising budget on a social media campaign ahead of the launch of its 2012 i electric car.  

Normally, Mitsubishi would spend 15 percent of any given advertising budget on online marketing, but in the case of its four-door compact all-electric hatchback, the company has spent more than 50 percent of its total Mitsubishi i advertising budget on digital and online marketing.

It’s all part of a move to get the car noticed by the very people who are most likely to want to drive it: tech-savvy, smart, consumers who spend a lot of time in the virtual world of social media sites. 

One of the first places online to receive attention from Mitsubishi’s ad gurus is Facebook. 

Leveraging the popularity of the social networking site to its advantage, Mitsubishi already has over 3,000 i fans and gives them exclusive content including quizzes, interactive galleries and even a way to reserve a car from the site. 

Using social media networks and interacting directly with fans and owners, Mitsubishi hopes it can help generate a self-propagating buzz around its first electric car. 

2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, E.U. spec

2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, E.U. spec

Combined with online adverts and Mitsubishi hopes it can beat its rivals with targeted marketing at just the people it hopes will buy the i. 

Just like other automakers, it also plans to give exclusive test-drives to influential bloggers and celebrities, in the hope they will enthuse about the car online and help drive interest in the brand. 

[Automotive News (Subscription Required)]