A few years ago in a sweeping change in positions that surprised the auto industry, Jack Pitney, then head of the new Mini division, switched jobs with Jim McDowell, who was serving as the British marque’s vice president of marketing.
In the famous words of Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu, all over again.”
Mini’s parent, BMW, is making two new veep switches, one financial, as Wayne Orchowski, vice president of the Eastern Region, becomes VP of operations and COO of BMW Group Financial Services. That move might not have even made the radar, but the other switch is causing some seismic tremors in the marketing world and blogs as Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing for the BMW Brand (and the acknowledged, if not titled, CMO of BMW US) will assume the role of vice president of BMW’s Eastern Region.
When a CMO moves from one company to another, retires or leaves the industry it’s usually not unexpected, but a move from the major staff position to a major line operation job is rare. Except it’s Pitney’s career DNA. How many remember when he moved from head of BMW public relations to lead the launch of Mini in the U.S. another line function. That too surprised industry pundits.
As VP – Marketing, Pitney often moved the needle with a track record of positive results — from the successful launch of several new vehicle categories, including the 1-Series, X-model sports activity vehicles, advanced diesels and whole new versions of Zs, 3s, 5s and 7-series. And if that’s not enough he was also responsible for all U.S. BMW product planning and strategy.
While many auto/ad/marketing types had sour faces about the recent “Joy” campaign, declaring it bland and boring because it seemed to diminish the “Ultimate Driving Machine” designation, it was, however, created to bring new, non-BMW-owners into the product fold. And based on the brand’s sales for the year-to-date it seemed to have reached its goal.
Pitney’s new job presents a range of responsibilities and leadership challenges as he runs all sales, marketing, after-sales and dealer development activities in the12-state Northeast Region which encompasses 93 BMW and 24 MINI dealers, and notably includes the New York metro area. With a sales volume of over 75,000 new vehicles a year, the Northeast is BMW of North America’s largest region in the U.S.
Curiously, the automaker remained mum about Pitney’s successor as head of BMW Brand Marketing in the U.S. The replacement for that job won’t be announced until as late as September 1, the automaker cautions.
Wayne Orchowski, currently Vice President, Eastern Region, BMW of North America, will assume the role of Vice President, Operations North America and Chief Operating Officer, BMW Group Financial Services Americas. In his new role, Orchowski will have overall leadership responsibility for the BMW Group Financial Services Regional Service Center in Ohio, as well as continuing to deliver operational excellence to over 1,200 dealers and 900,000 lease and loan customers across the U.S. and Canada.