BATES REALIGNS TO FORTIFY CREATIVE: GOAL IS TO MAKE NORTH AMERICA GLOBAL BASE OF FOUR AGENCY REGIONS

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Bates North America shifts several executives this week in an ongoing effort to strengthen its creative presence.

John Fawcett, 49, currently worldwide creative director, adds North American creative duties. Mike Robertson, 51, who held the North American post, now moves to the company's Irvine, Calif., office as vice chairman and will oversee all Hyundai creative strategy.

"Historically, our strength has been understanding the consumer. To be frank, it hasn't been our creative firepower," said Bates CEO Bill Whitehead. "We've made significant hires on the creative side and now it's time to start to let them flower."

POWERHOUSE

The ultimate goal: make Bates North America the creative powerhouse, and global base, of the four regions comprising Bates Worldwide. Bates' parent company is Cordiant Communications Group.

Mr. Fawcett said the North American region now has strong chief creatives in all its offices. And he plans to hold regular strategy meetings to gather together all the creative directors worldwide.

Also in the shift Chris Clark, 38, who has been exec VP-director of business development, is promoted to exec VP-director of planning and strategic development. Bates will now begin a search for a new-business director.

Marylin Silverman gets a newly created position, exec VP-knowledge management officer, overseeing Bates' best practices, consumer insights and research. Ms. Silverman, former exec VP-planning and research, continues on Wendy's International.

Cordiant, almost two years after its de-merger with Saatchi & Saatchi, has been subject to merger speculation. Both True North Communications and WPP Group have at one time or another voiced interest in the company.

Some of the speculation quieted with its 1999 first-half financial results (8.9% revenue growth compared to the first half of '98), and with Cordiant CEO Michael Bungey's declaration of an aggressive acquisition strategy, focusing on North

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