Hyundai Straw Bale Breaks Whitehead’s Back

20 May 2002

A mere straw broke the proverbial camel’s back – but it was the hefty $160 million (€177.56m; £109.83m) bale of the Hyundai Motor America account that fractured the career of Bill Whitehead, president of Bates Americas.

Whitehead tended his resignation late last week and quit immediately. His duties have been shouldered temporarily by Bates Worldwide chairman-ceo David Hearn.

Hearn told “The Bates business [in the US] is not enjoying the best time it's ever had. One of the key tasks we have … is to restore and re-energize Bates’ business here and get back some of the glory it once enjoyed. A turnaround situation is usually accompanied by a change in leadership. It's clear that's what we've got to do.”

Meantime, Hearn plans “to take this opportunity to get close to the business on a day-to-day basis. He added: “I don't know yet what the right answers are to a whole load of things. I want to begin to create a new culture and start to represent the Bates agency to the outside world.”

Bates Worldwide is a unit of London-headquartered Cordiant Communications.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff