Bates Asia currently has 14 offices across Asia-Pacific, while CHI & Partners has offices in London and New York. The new network will be led globally by Johnny Hornby, a CHI & Partners co-founder. David Mayo, who left Ogilvy a month ago to helm Bates, will be CEO of "Bates CHI & Partners" in Asia. The London and New York offices will continue to operate under the CHI & Partners name.
Established in 2001 by Simon Clemmow, Hornby and Charles Inge, CHI & Partners is an award-winning independent agency. Its client roster includes Burger King, Samsung, Lexus and Nestle. In 2007, WPP acquired a 49.9 per cent stake in the agency, with the remaining 50.1 per cent placed in an employee benefit trust owned by the founders.
Bates was established in Hong Kong by Ted Bates in the early 1960s after acquiring a stake in Cathay Advertising from George Patterson. It was fully acquired by WPP in 2003 and merged with agency 141 to form Bates 141. Last year, the agency rebranded, dropping 141 from its name.
In recent years, Bates' reputation as a creative force has eroded despite a large and profitable client portfolio, and as Mayo acknowledged in an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, "needs to have pride built back into it."
“The joint venture brings together Bates, the agency that invented the unique selling proposition back in the 1940s, with CHI, the creators of ‘the big idea’, its modern equivalent,” said Hornby.
Following the merger, the new network's strategy is to offer "bespoke multi-disciplined teams" and to be "a nimbler, faster, more modern alternative to the big networks", he added.
This proposition is in response to client demand, Mayo said. "Clients all over the world are increasingly leaning towards more bespoke solutions developed from a wider menu of talent and skills, which by definition don't all live in the same place any more. At the same time they demand geographical spread in order to reach multiple, connected audiences."
The new Bates CHI & Partners forms a global network with access to some of "the best tools and skills available", he concluded.
The article first appeared on Campaign Asia