Resignation of Kevin Coyne Clears Way for Move

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- With the resignation of a key media executive, the full transfer of the Bates North America media business to Optimedia is complete, creating a $3 billion media agency.

Bates, owned by Cordiant Communications Group, revealed an alliance between its media operation and Optimedia after the office of Bates USA West, Irvine, Calif., lost the $500 million Hyundai Motor America media account earlier this year, leaving the unit without any billings clout in the marketplace. Optimedia is part of the larger Zenith Optimedia Group, which is 75% owned by Publicis Groupe and 25% by Cordiant.

Kevin Coyne, Bates North America's top media executive, today is leaving the company for personal reasons, according to the agency. Mr. Coyne was unavailable for comment, and company officials would only confirm that he was leaving.

Transition team
A replacement for Mr. Coyne will not be named; instead Bates media interests are being overseen by a transition team of several key Bates executives including Gary Steele, managing director of Bates' retail group; Tom Morelli, senior vice president and media planning director; John Lazarus, director of broadcast relations; and Optimedia CEO Mike Drexler.

Optimedia and Bates media executives negotiated deals together for their clients in the recent network upfront, a partnership that accelerated the merging of the two media departments.

"We handled all of the network upfront already. That was very successful," Mr. Drexler said. "We worked together on that effort. That was phase one."

Moving offices
The Bates media department is moving from the agency's offices in New York's garment district to Optimedia's offices a few blocks south at Herald Square.

"We're shooting to have everyone down here by Sept. 1," Mr. Drexler said. "The network buying group is moving over very soon, and then we are going to start to move their planning group over and the spot buying groups. We've got all the office space ready for them to come over. We've got all the resources, systems and hardware that they need. This is now one team."

Mr. Drexler said Mr. Lazarus, who recently was hired to act as a liaison between Bates and Optimedia, is spearheading the merger. Mr. Lazarus was a former longtime senior vice president and executive director of national broadcast at TN Media, now part of Interpublic Group of Cos.  Mr. Drexler, who also was recently hired by Optimedia, was once the chairman of TN Media.

Wendy's to shift
Bates' media accounts that move to Optimedia include Wendy's International and T. Rowe Price, which contribute the bulk of its $430 million in media billings. Estee Lauder Co. will stay at Bates due to a conflict with Optimedia's L'Oreal business, Mr. Drexler said.

According to a press release issued by Bates, Mr. Coyne is leaving to start his "open his own business outside the communications field." Mr. Coyne did not return a phone call. Paul Levine, Bates' chief marketing officer, said he did not know the nature of the Mr. Coyne's new business.

  Mr. Coyne, who was also a member of the Bates North American board, spent 12 years at Bates USA West before joining the New York office in 1998. He was part of the original management team that in 1986 opened Bates' West Coast operations in Irvine and later Los Angeles. 

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