Mitsubishi Motors North America is elevating Kimberly Ito to its top marketing position.
Ito, who has been with the company for six years, is now director of marketing. She was most recently senior manager, marketing communications.
Mitsubishi has been without a CMO since November 2020, when Kimberley Gardiner left the company to become senior vice president, VW marketing at Volkswagen of America, Inc. Ito assumes Gardiner’s previous duties and will continue to report to Mark Chaffin, chief operating officer, per a company spokesperson.
The native Californian describes her management style on her LinkedIn page as “empathetic, supportive and motivating” and says she is a “strong believer in radical candor.”
Most recently, she oversaw Mitsubishi marketing communications for national/Tier 1 efforts including brand and media strategy, advertising and interactive. She now takes on full responsibility for all marketing communications activities for MMNA in the United States, including print and digital advertising, creative development and deployment, strategic short- and long-range planning and integration of global marketing messages for the brand’s U.S. market.
In October, Ito led the campaign launch for the company’s flagship vehicle, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander.Previously, Ito led the first-ever car reveal on Amazon Live with the world premiere of the 2022 Outlander, surpassing viewership Key Performance Indicators by 110% within hours of the reveal, according to the company.
Before coming to Mitsubishi, Ito spent four years at Qantas Airways and Tourism Australia. Before moving to the client side, she was an analytics manager at OIC Agency in Los Angeles, and a media planner at SaatchI & Saatchi working on the Toyota account.
Mitsubishi spent $17 million on measured media marketing for the first nine months of 2021, per Kantar Media. The company spent $23 million in 2020 and just under $79 million in 2019.
The automaker is on an upward trajectory, having reported strong fourth quarter sales totally of 24,861, an increase of 68.3% over the same period in 2020. Full-year 2021 total sales were 102,037, an increase of 16.8% over 2020, and the fourth time the brand has topped 100,000 sales since 2007.
Mitsubishi also was named the most-improved brand in Reputation's “2021 Automotive Reputation Report,” which analyzed 35,000 automotive OEM brands, dealer groups and dealerships across the United States, Canada and Europe.