Jeremy Tucker, Nissan's VP for marketing communications and media in North America, is leaving the company as part of a larger management overhaul. His replacement is Allyson Witherspoon, the automaker's general manager for global brand engagement.
The change comes as Nissan's U.S. sales falter. Nissan brand sales fell 15.6 percent in the first two months of the year to 194,174 vehicles, according to Automotive News. That compares with a 2.6 percent drop in the total automotive market.
In a press release, Nissan said it is making changes to its North American management team as it "accelerates efforts to meet targets outlined in the company's midterm business plan." The six-year plan known as "M.O.V.E. to 2022" was first announced in 2017 and aims to grow global revenues by 30 percent, while investing in new technologies like electrified vehicles and autonomous driving.
Tucker was an automotive outsider when he joined Nissan in late 2014. He had previously worked for Disney's consumer products division and before that was at PepsiCo's Frito-Lay. While at Nissan he reunited with Disney by launching several brand partnerships with the company's "Star Wars" film franchise, including in 2016 when Nissan used "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" to plug the Rogue SUV. Nissan's year-round marketing has deployed special effects while plugging "intelligent mobility."
Omnicom handles the automaker's marketing via its "Nissan United" team of agencies, which includes TBWA ChiatDay New York, Zimmerman Advertising, OMD and multicultural shop fluent360.
Tucker "had a good run," said a person familiar with Nissan who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "but I think it was just time to bring in somebody fresh." Witherspoon is "known as someone who loves creative and wants to do great creative work," this person said.
Witherspoon took the global role in 2017, when she moved to Japan after serving as U.S. director of marketing and media for Nissan-owned Infiniti. Earlier in her career she worked at ad agencies, including Havas-owned Arnold.
Tuesday's announcement comes amid a slew of changes in the wake of the highly publicized downfall of auto titan and former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested last year on allegations of financial misconduct.
The changes announced this week include promoting Chris Reed, VP for platform and technology engineering, to senior VP for research and development at Nissan's Technical Center North America.