Local Nissan executive has 'left the company'

Company refuses to explain departure of innovator who supported Nissan, Infiniti brands

Nissan North American Vice President Jan Thompson, one of the most prominent female auto executives in the world, has surrendered her post as marketing-communications chief at the automaker's Cool Springs headquarters.

Although industry media are saying Thompson resigned "under pressure," yesterday Nissan Corporate Communications Director Fred Standish would only tell NashvillePost.com that the reasons for Thompson's leaving are "a matter between her and HR, and we're going to keep that confidential." The company's Monday release said only she had "left the company."

Standish would not provide new contact information for Thompson, and NashvillePost.com efforts to reach her have thus far proven fruitless.

Thompson will be replaced in ten days by Ford Motor's Ben Poore, who has helped brand "the Blue Oval" for 13 years and who until recently bragged on Ford's website about the time he finally bought his "dream car" — a 1988 Ford Mustang.

It's possible Thompson may next land at Ford Motor Company: industry media have reported Thompson's former boss at Nissan, Steve Wilhite, resigned this week from his chief operating officer post at Hyundai Motors America and is now a contender for the role of Ford's chief marketing officer. Poore is apparently not a contender for Ford's top marketing job.

Thompson had reportedly been under fire from Nissan dealers for her unconventional advertising approaches and for disappointing sales following some product launches. She has introduced viral marketing, Podcast marketing and other tactics to the automaker's arsenal for Nissan and Infiniti brands.

Thompson joined Nissan three years ago, prior to the company's relocation from California, after serving five years as president and CEO of Omnicom's Designory marketing-services company.

Earlier, she played executive roles with Callaway Golf and Wilson Golf.

Poore's Ford marketing responsibilities have included domestic and foreign markets. Most recently he marketed Lincoln/Mercury and Ford trucks. He earned his bachelor's at the University of Delaware and his MBA at Duke University.

In a Nissan release earlier this week, Senior Vice President for Sales & Marketing Mark McNabb welcomed Poore, acknowledged Thompson's "contributions to the company" and wished her success. Given the industry's fondness for musical chairs, that may be a prudent posture for McNabb.