By on November 3, 2021

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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22 Comments on “Infiniti Convinces Woman to Take Three Jobs...”

  • avatar

    Following the JdN model, she will be president of Cadillac a year from now and oversee its 5th failed reboot.

  • avatar

    Hope she’s got an in with Design and Product Planning at Infiniti. Hard to fix Brand, Sales and Marketing when your portfolio is 3 warmed over Nissan SUV’s and one sedan that’s serviceable but not really outstanding in any aspect. Where’s the stunning convertible, halo sports car, executive express luxury sedan or over the top luxo-barge SUV? Infiniti seems to be most prevalent in rental car fleets, not at the country clubs and swank resorts where many of their competitors live.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    mmmm, yeah sure, ahhh would you mind taking on two more jobs? Your pay will remain the same but you’ll really be helping out the company. Really, upper management takes note of things like this! More work and more titles for the same pay? We call that a Procedural Promotion. Seen too many former junior officers get churned through/burned out doing that.

  • avatar

    Olga Filippova

    She is what, 2nd ranked officer there

    Svetlana Kolesnikova is head of human resources at INFINITI Motor Company.

    No wonder, Russians in US buying infinity in numbers

  • avatar

    First communications challenge, figure out how to not name everything you make “Q,” and how to make anybody give a crap about anything you make.

    • 0 avatar

      “Z” is such a better letter, and with the genera; Nissan Z tie in it makes me wonder why “Q” was selected instead.

    • 0 avatar

      “figure out how to make anybody give a crap about anything you make.”

      They had one megahit product, which was the G35/G37. Then the crossover boom came and people stopped caring much about the G’s strengths. They tried making two different crossovers (FX/QX70 and EX/QX50) that channeled the spirit of the G, and both flopped. Then they tried making more mainstream crossovers, and those sold but also did almost nothing to build brand equity because they were generic.

      Honestly the way forward at this point would be to go waaaaaaaay upmarket with the next QX80, while keeping the value angle. Make it a Range Rover competitor that you can fully load up for $100k. Name it with some name reminding people of rich-people safaris in Africa If you can get that swag in a big SUV then there might be some hope at putting it into the rest of the lineup.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s wrong with “Q” ?

      It’s an extremely popular letter with certain orange and tinfoil hat demographics.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    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?

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