Infiniti Convinces Woman to Take Three Jobs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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?

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.