This conversation explores two launches: both in the same sector, during a global pandemic but targeting two very different groups. The Infiniti Motor Company recently  launched its QX55 and QX60 models — the former is geared towards single, successful men and the latter targeted professional, multifaceted women.

And unexpectedly, the pandemic opened opportunities for the Japanese automotive giant to experiment with new launch strategies — and ultimately reboot its playbook to break expectations and challenge assumptions about the automotive sector. Can automotive borrow influencer tactics from the beauty, retail and lifestyle sectors? How does an automotive company sell the sensory experience of buying a car during lockdown? How can you add multicultural nuance to consumer personas?

These are among the questions answered during the discussion that features Wendy Orthman, Infiniti’s newly-promoted GM of global integrated brand, marketing and communications, in addition to Stephanie Friess, SVP at imre. This is Episode 3 in the Modern Brand Belief series, in partnership with imre, focused on the intricacies of creating successful PR campaigns in the modern era. 

As one example of disrupting norms, Orthman made a "no suits rule" for part of the launch. The pandemic forced staggered briefings, so automative and business journalists conducted their interviews and wrote their stories in advance. “This really changed our perspective on the 'reveal film' itself and we felt like we could have a little bit more fun and the executives could show up in a way that was more relevant,” Orthman said.

For more from Orthman and Friess, watch or listen to the full conversation below. 

Topics Covered: 
02:02 Orthman on moving to Japan to join Infiniti just as Covid-19 enveloped the world 
04:33 Friess draws parallels between automotive and beauty, retail & lifestyle 
06:04 The QX 55 launch — and the unexpected pandemic pivot 
08:12 How lockdown allowed the team to take risks 
11:20 How to replicate the sensory experience of buying a car during lockdown
12:49 Rethinking exec comms around the "no suits rule"
15:03 "It takes a village" - a new way to approach the marketing mix 
18:43 Getting real about the role of celebs vs more accessible influencers 
21:00 How the "Claire" persona for QX60 still included multicultural nuance
25:11 Lessons learned on integration