LOS ANGELES The new creative director on Infiniti was welcomed at Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day this week by being told to leave immediately.
"The first thing they told me Monday is that I had to fly to Japan on Sunday," said Dennis Lim, hired from Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney after a lengthy search by TBWA\C\D executive creative director Rob Schwartz. "It's a big relief for them to get me in here, because there's so much Rob has been handling."
Schwartz said that he interviewed "10 creative directors on three continents" for the job before tapping Lim. "He's a very thoughtful creative," said Schwartz. "He loves cars and, more importantly, great brands." Citing Lim's past work on Apple, HP and Saturn, to which he "brought dignity and character," Schwartz said Lim's "got the right sensibility to build a tier-one luxury brand."
That sensibility will be informed by Japanese heritage and popular culture, Schwartz said, as evidenced by the current campaign for Infiniti, which uses a Japanese gestural art technique, fluid strokes of light outlining the profile and distinctive features.
"Infiniti is tapping into the Japanese soul, letting Infiniti stand for modern Japanese vibrant design," said Schwartz, recalling Nissan's "Master of the Six Speed" three-and-a-half-minute film of 2002. "Dennis is well schooled in Asian design, Asian philosophy, Asian culture. He'll be able to bring all that knowledge to the next chapter of Infiniti's brand story."
Lim praised the "tremendous amount of work on the brand in the last six years. It's coalesced into a single thought," he said. "I'm lucky to be here at this time, when I think Infiniti will have an identity, and one that will stick the way, for example, BMW is associated with performance. We're arriving at the strategy, and we're now ready to strongly suggest what the brand's about."
Schwartz hinted that the positioning would capture the high-end market. "Infiniti doesn't just want to be in the race for luxury; they want to be in the pole position," he said.
"We've got momentum on the brand in terms of voice and character," Schwartz said. "Dennis can take us to a really special place in the market."
Schwartz said Lim fits into TBWA\C\D's culture as well. "He likes to make order out of chaos, and we have a fair amount of chaos he's going to have some fun ordering," Schwartz said.