Infiniti Convinces Woman to Take Three Jobs

infiniti convinces woman to take three jobs

Nissan-owned Infiniti has opted to merge marketing, public relations, and social media oversight into a single position. Framed as a promotion for Wendy Orthman, the brand’s current global head of communications, the management shift takes place shortly after former General Manager Global Brand and Marketing Phil York decided he had better things to do in Europe. But it really just seems like the company figured out a way to roll three jobs into a single paycheck.

Effective today, Orthman will be assuming the freshly minted title of general manager of Global Integrated Brand, Marketing and Communications. According to the automaker, the position combines the roles of a chief marketing officer and head of communications while also providing oversight for Infiniti’s social media and public relations.

Orthman moved to Japan to take the lead communications job in 2020 and previously worked within Nissan’s media/comms team for North America. Before that, she was serving as a PR manager for Chrysler.

“Infiniti is a brand born to defy conventions and Wendy has a flair for big, convention-breaking ideas. With this change, Infiniti is once again making a daring statement by truly integrating marketing, social and communications into one vision.” stated Olga Filippova, divisional general manager, Infiniti Global Brand, Sales and Marketing. “In addition to pushing boundaries and challenging what’s possible with a level of energy, tenacity and good humor that we value, Wendy embodies the human-first approach that sets Infiniti apart and these strengths are invaluable assets as we steer Infiniti towards a bright new era.”

We’re guessing her biggest asset is likely a willingness to take on what’s presumably a pretty hefty workload (Ed. note — it has been pointed out to me by at least one person who has worked with Orthman that this sentence could be taken to suggest we think Orthman isn’t qualified. That’s not Matt’s intent — he was criticizing Infiniti for putting three jobs’ worth of work on one person. Matt never meant to imply he believes Orthman isn’t qualified for the role, and I hope this note clears up any potential confusion). Though, having formerly worked in automotive PR and marketing myself, I know that plenty of positions are little more than cushy management jobs where you’re effectively telling clients exactly what they want to hear. Underlings tend to be research drones dumping in long hours so they resulting data can be spun into something more palatable and are typically waiting for an opportunity to prove they’re attractive and charming enough to become an outward facing member of the organization. But even the breeziest of marketing jobs will become taxing when you’re doing three of them at once and Orthman might be the hardest worker in Infiniti’s roster for all we know.

Still, it remains curious that the automaker promoted just one person to handle a broad (albeit related) spectrum of tasks. Automotive News similarly noted that it was uncommon to see a relatively fresh faced communications head being promoted into a series of high-ranking marketing roles. But it referenced Audi’s decision to promote Tara Rush from comms chief to head of marketing in 2020 to prove it wasn’t without precedent — though the outlet ultimately attributed Orthman’s promotion to optics.

From AN:

Infiniti is portraying the promotion as an outside-the-box pick meant to capitalize on Orthman’s skills as an “advocate for diversity and inclusion, lifestyle storytelling and digital media.” Such traits are becoming more important inside the automotive sector. Car brands are notorious for big-budgeted TV campaigns, but quick-moving social media campaigns are taking on new relevance as brands adjust to the media habits of younger buyers.

Whether not this will result in noteworthy changes to the brand’s outgoing messaging remains to be seen. But moving away from spending money on “big-budgeted TV campaigns” does sound like something a business that just consolidated its entire media leadership into one position might do — even if buying trends are indeed shifting toward the internet. Nissan and its subsidiaries have been downsizing/restructuring for a few years now. After hearing about how they had to nix the planned premium EV offensive (which would have started this year) and watching Infiniti’s U.S. sales sliding in the wrong direction since 2018, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised to see the brand failing to fill out its ranks following a few sizable staffing shakeups.

Regardless, we’re wishing Wendy lots of luck and hope she finds the necessary time to juggle all three positions. Hopefully Filippova and Infiniti Chairman/Senior VP Peyman Kargar go easy on her while she settles in.

[Image: Infiniti]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Nov 03, 2021

    The replacement QX50 went from a 300 hp V6 north south engine with a good AWD system, essentially a raised G37, to that weird four-banger variable compression ratio engine mounted crosswise. Yecch. Who buys it? Virtually no one. And the coupe QX55 version won't change a thing. There's no there there. The Q50/Q60 are old school bruisers, essentially 20 year old FM platform cars like the G35 and G37, but now with 3.0l V6 Turbo Powah. Likely very durable, but somehow out-of-date and not very appealing. Made in Japan though, at least. The rest of the lineup is a QX60 Nissan Pathfinder in drag and the blowsy QX80 Armada clone. Ms Orthman is now in charge of marketing among other things. I'd agree she has three jobs rolled into one, simply because Infiniti cannot afford anything else. Whether she knows enough about cars to be a product planner in the traditional marketing mould is likely moot. A placeholder position while the corporate nitwits wandering around in circles back in Japan figure out how to make something that appeals, er sells, following Ghosn. I mean Nissan in general, because beyond the Rogue and Qashqai, what they got? A bunch of cheapo models handily outdone by Hyundai/Kia.

    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Nov 04, 2021

      More people buy the new QX50 than the old one. People have a lot of trouble with tight packaging in crossovers and those crossovers tend to sell poorly. The EX35/37 was almost unusable as a family vehicle. The stretched QX50 was better, but still small inside for the size outside. The new QX50 is totally boring, but has considerably more room.

  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Nov 03, 2021

    So long as she doesn't make more than 73% of what a man would make in the position, I guess I'm OK with this. And does she mind traveling in a shipping crate?

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.