Thomas Mignanelli resigned as president of NMS last week, as expected. Bob Thomas, who had previously run the Nissan division before fading into Mignanelli's shadow in the past two years, was named to succeed him. Thomas' new management team will be announced this week.
Key changes include naming Brad Bradshaw, currently Infiniti ad manager, head of advertising for beth Nissan and Infiniti. Infiniti general marketing manager Bob Paske is being moved to the haman resources area. And Nissan general marketing manager Jules Clavadetscher is being given a new, albeit undisclosed, task.
Nissan division head Earl Hesterberg and Infiniti chief William Bruce, sources said last week, are believed to be keeping their jobs. But ad functions will no longer report to them.
"This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of a lot of change at Nissan," said George Petersen, an analyst at AutoPacific Group Inc. "Nissan is in recovery from a marketing standpoint, but it has profitability problems."
Indeed, both Nissan and Infiniti are seen as new being on the right marketing track after years of misdirection. This week Infiniti unveils the first work done by Chiat since it moved to the agency after three rocky years with Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos/Boston.
On the strength of the introduction of the Nissan Altima and Infiniti J30 last fall, the company's sales and market share are up. Through the first quarter, Nissan sales are up 16%, with market share up to 4.3%, compared with 3.7% last year. Infiniti's share is at 0.6%, up from 0.5%, and sales are up 20%.
But while sales and share are nice, profit is more important these days. Nissan's Japanese parent, said analysts, plans to slash 1(}% to 20% of the U.S. corporate staff over the next two years.
The pressure on profits was in part why Mignanelli fired HHCC last fall, hiring Chiat for Infiniti at a 4% commission rate, sources said, less than half what HHCC was being paid.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)