PEOPLE: PLAYER PROFILE: FAWCETT TAKES MANHATTAN, FOR WORLDWIDE BATES POST: DOWN-UNDER EXEC IS LEAVING SYDNEY OPERATION TO BUILD AGENCY'S CREATIVE PRODUCT

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It's a typical "best of times, worst of times" scenario for John Fawcett. Mr. Fawcett believes it's finally the right time to take on a new job as worldwide creative director of Bates Worldwide, but, in doing so, he has to find a place to live in New York.

Mr. Fawcett is heading to Bates' headquarters from Sydney, where he has been chairman of George Patterson Bates. The appointment formalizes a two-year stint overseeing Bates' creative efforts while also heading the Australian agency.

Right now, Mr. Fawcett and his wife are searching for a place to live in New York, a difficult proposition in today's real estate market. "I spoke to a broker who said, `The market is hot, you picked the worst time,' " he said.

RIGHT MOMENT

Nevertheless, Mr. Fawcett said, this is the right moment to tackle Bates' creative reputation.

Bates Chairman-CEO Michael Bungey had tried for years to convince Mr. Fawcett to take the worldwide creative reins, but Mr. Fawcett said he had reservations about taking the job under the former Cordiant holding company. Separating from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide in the Dec. 15 split-up has freed Bates to concentrate on its own accounts and its own destiny, he said.

FOCUSED AFTER `DEMERGER'

"Since we've `demerged' . . . everybody's really focused," Mr. Fawcett said. "That really appeals to me."

The worldwide creative director job had been open since 1993, when Bill Backer-whose agency, Backer & Spielvogel, was one of the building blocks of Bates Worldwide-retired. The position had remained vacant because there wasn't a unified Bates brand before 1995, Mr. Bungey said. That was the year that what became Backer Spielvogel Bates was rebranded as Bates Worldwide.

Starting in 1995, Mr. Bungey said, he began "the process of convincing John to do the job."

DOWN TO 1 HAT

The 48-year-old Mr. Fawcett, a longtime Bates hand, has served as both head of Patterson Bates and chairman of Bates' worldwide creative board since '96. But wearing the two hats wasn't practical, so once the demerger was completed, Mr. Fawcett said, he chose to give up the Australian post and concentrate on the creative product.

"That's where my heart is," he said. "I've always dealt with clients on the creative work," even as head of Patterson Bates.

Mr. Bungey said Mr. Fawcett was the right person for the worldwide post because he has a strong creative reputation both in the industry and within Bates.

While acknowledging that Bates hasn't had the strong central creative leadership that has created reputations at other shops, Mr. Bungey noted that many creative hot shops built their reputation on a couple of striking campaigns, which created a "halo effect" around all their efforts.

"What we need is the halo," he said.

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