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WPP retains Bates name in relaunch of Asian agency

HONG KONG - WPP Group is to relaunch its Bates advertising network as an Asia-only regional network, sparing it the fate of the agency in Europe and the US where it has been folded into other group agencies.

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Bates Asia gets a new logo and corporate identity, designed to get across its change to a specialist network focused on local Asian clients.

It had been speculated that Bates Asia would be merged with Red Cell or Dentsu Young & Rubicam once WPP had completed its acquisition of Cordiant Communications.

Red Cell is WPP's fledgling fourth-string agency network and is represented by a collection of agencies around the world, including Batey Group in Asia, with flagship offices in London, Paris and New York.

Instead, the agency, which will be called Bates Asia, will maintain its own identity, separate from Red Cell and other WPP agencies in the region.

In the UK, Bates was folded into J Walter Thompson and Red Cell; in the US, Bates went into JWT; and 15 Bates offices in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Eastern Europe were also subsumed into Red Cell.

Jeffrey Yu, Bates Asia regional president, said: "Bates Asia has the deep insight into local markets and local consumers that many clients are seeking yet don't always receive from other agencies."

Yu echoed WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell's words earlier this year adding that there was a worldwide swing towards local relevancy.

Sir Martin said in October that the one-size-fits-all global marketing mantra had gone too far and that it was now time to swing back the other way.

"What's happened is that companies are trying to run things in black-and-white ways, where one size fits all. And there's a very simple message: one size doesn't fit all," Sir Martin said.

Yu said Bates Asia would offer clients a communications partner that has world-class skills, combined with the ability to give local insights.

The new Bates Asia has 26 offices in 12 countries and employs more than 1,500 staff with its headquarters in Hong Kong. The agency, unlike Bates in the UK and the US, has held on to its major clients, which include Nokia, HSBC and Heineken.

The Asian arms of below-the-line agency 141 and interactive agency XM will continue to operate within Bates Asia.

The new corporate identity has been designed to capture the networks local focus and features the Bates Asia name with falling grains of rice.

"Rice is the staple food for Asia. Rice is common to all Asian countries and cultures, yet has distinct local varieties. Thus our Bangkok office uses Thai jasmine rice, while our Tokyo office, Japanese short grain," Yu said.

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