Estee Lauder Cos. has decided to continue its relationship with Bates Manhattan. The agency will retain responsibility for media planning and placement for the Estee Lauder, Clinique, Prescriptives, Origins and Aramis units. Their media spending totals about $80 million; international media buying is handled by local agencies in those markets. Bates will also handle creative work for the Lauder unit, though creative also will be done in-house and fragrance assignments already at the Lowe
Group, a contender for the account, will remain at Lowe. The decision was a surprise. Industry executives speculate Lauder may be staying put at Bates for now, despite going through a protracted review, because the company is in the midst of an initial public offering and an acquisition of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and has too much on its plate to make an agency change at this time.