Bates Clients Twitchy at Account Conflicts After WPP Takeover

29 July 2003

Sweaty palms at Bates Worldwide and its new overlord WPP Group, whose largest global client is the Ford Motor Company.

Following last week’s agreed takeover of Bates’ foundering parent Cordiant Communications, there has been much commuting across the planet by senior honchos of both companies to US, Asian and European automakers whose business is handled by the Bates network. In each of these regions, there are also WPP-owned shops servicing Ford business.

Indeed the emollient activity started mid-June when Sir Martin Sorrell descended from Olympus to petition Volkswagen-owned Spanish car firm SEAT to leave its pan-European ad business with Bates. Another European giant, Mercedes-Benz, is a major Bates client in Latin America.

Eastward-ho, a battalion of Bates suits are soothing twitchy clients such as Shanghai General Motors and Hyundai , the latter providing Diamond Bates in Korea with fifty percent of its billings.

A spokeswoman for Ford deemed it “inappropriate” to comment on the Cordiant deal. But the world’s number two carmaker has previously made it abundantly clear that it expects its agencies to work for Ford – and Ford alone.

Those close to the sutuation expect Bates to be melded in Europe and Asia with Red Cell, WPP’s sole Fordless network. But Red Cell does handle Fiat’s Alfa Romeo – not only its largest client but also its very first. Whether the building of Chinese walls will mollify the competing carmakers remains to be seen.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff