BATES USA WEST CUTS 10% OF STAFF

Layoffs Blamed on Hyundai Media Account Loss

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif., laid off a dozen staffers, or about 10% of its staff, last week.

The cuts, according to an executive close to the Cordiant Communications Group agency, were due to the office's recent loss of Hyundai Motor America's U.S. media planning and buying account. The layoffs occurred March 15.

In late January, Aegis Group's Carat USA, New York, won Hyundai and sibling Kia Motors America's consolidated $450 million media account after a review.

Not invited to media review
Bates wasn't

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invited to that review, which was spearheaded by the automaker's South Korean parent. Bates is currently defending Hyundai's $160 million national creative account, which it has held since the brand's 1986 U.S. entry.

Separately, Mark Weifeld, a Bates USA West veteran who headed strategic planning, left the agency voluntarily March 15. He will join independent Doner's Newport Beach, Calif., office, which handles Mazda North American Operations, as senior vice president of brand integration and strategy.

Another Bates USA West veteran on Hyundai, James Cooper, who headed the regional dealer ad account, left the agency a few weeks ago.

Contracts pending
Bates has separate contracts through at least the third quarter of 2002 with Hyundai's four regional dealer ad groups. Those accounts, worth more than $50 million in annual billings, aren't part the current review. But the client's original request for proposals indicated they may eventually move.

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