WPP contracts media management as result of Asian crisis

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SINGAPORE -- The Asian economic recession has claimed a high-profile victim in the advertising industry - longtime Ogilvy & Mather employee Andre Nair.

Mr. Nair, who was appointed CEO of Maximize in Asia Pacific at the WPP media specialist agency's inception in January, has been laid off in the company's bid to cut costs in Asia.

He will leave Maximize, which was established in part to handle conflicting accounts among WPP agencies, notably O&M, J. Walter Thompson, and Batey Ads in Singapore, at the end of the year. He will be replaced by John Steedman, who is CEO of WPP's larger media specialist agency, MindShare, in Asia Pacific.

Mr. Steedman says the decision to eliminate Mr. Nair's position evolved as the Asian recession grew worse than WPP executives had forecast when both MindShare and Maximize were created simultaneously at the beginning of this year.

As a direct result of the worsening economic situation, "we decided we don't need two regional structures within the group," Mr. Steedman says.

Maximize and MindShare will now work under the same regional management team - headed by Mr. Steedman - but in each market they will continue to operate separately and handle competing business.

Following Mr. Nair's departure, the Singapore office will be run by Karin Galley-Dick. Mr. Nair, who is based in Singapore, has been with O&M for 17 years, previously as president of the Ogilvy Media Network in Hong Kong. It's reported he will be offered another position within the WPP group.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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