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Instead of stockpiling water and foodstuffs for the millennium, Bates USA, New York, shook up its management team last year to prepare for the future.

Seeking to raise the creative bar, Worldwide Creative Director John Fawcett took on North America and Mike Robertson, who had the North American post, moved to California as vice chairman to oversee all Hyundai Motor America creative strategy. His latest work for the 2000 cars includes a repositioning of the Bates-created "America's Best Warranty" and clever creative.

To beef up the new business and strategy team, Bates promoted Chris Clark, business development director, to exec VP, director of planning and strategic development. The agency then hired Paul Levine from Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York, to take over the new business duties as chief marketing officer.

Also on the strategy side, Marylin Silverman became knowledge management officer overseeing Bates' best practices, consumer insights and research.

Bates picked up about $180 million in new billings, a 15% increase over 1998 base billings with wins such as Allied Domecq Spirits USA's Sauza tequila line,, Mercedes Latin America and TAP Pharmaceuticals' Prevacid. However, the shop lost Avis Rent A Car System and Electronic Data Systems for a hit of more than $35 million.

Looking ahead

Bates still swears it wants to, and can, remain independent. But two years after the Saatchi & Saatchi demerger, sale rumors persist, and a deal wouldn't surprise anyone. The agency needs more major wins to revitalize its image, something an aggressive new-business strategy may provide.

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