David Mayo (pictured) is to assume the position of chief executive of Bates Asia as chairman Tim Isaac enters into retirement. Mayo is to make the official transition from his role as president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising early in November. Bates will continue to be aligned with Ogilvy under the existing ‘one company, two brands’ arrangement. He will be responsible for developing the Bates brand and establishing a new network model.
In an exclusive interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Mayo explained that the move was “not a takeover” and that Bates would operate as “an independent company backed by the establishment”.
He admitted that Bates faced a challenge, but stressed that he had “opted into” the move and noted that the agency was nonetheless well positioned for growth. He described it as being fundamentally “a good organisation” that “needs to have pride built back into it”.
“It’s big and profitable,” he continued. “What it lacks is profile. It doesn’t produce [work] other people wish they had done; it’s not a place brilliant people want to go as they continue up their career ladder; it doesn’t win pitches against Asia’s best.”
However, he pointed out that clients include the likes of GM, Diageo, Sampoerna Philip Morris, Colgate, Castrol, Kraft, Disney, Nokia, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Wyeth and Yum Brands.
Mayo described his appointment as “the first step in a journey”. An important element in rebuilding Bates’ stature, he said, would be forging closer links between the network’s three separate clusters. Acquisitions and partnerships will also be a major part of the strategy.
“The tenor of the place needs to be hungrier," he said. "We are going to be doing things that will put us ahead. There is an aggressive acquisition and partnership strategy within the Ogilvy group and we need to use those traits to bring Bates back. We need to ensure that we have an active and aggressive new business pipeline and are reaching out to each other more.”
Mayo first worked at Bates in 1994 when he relocated to Asia from London. In 2005 he founded RedCard, later moving onto senior positions at Ogilvy & Mather.
In a statement, Ogilvy & Mather’s regional chairman, Paul Heath, said that Mayo’s “verve, energy and drive” would be the “perfect tonic for Bates”.
“I will miss him personally but am delighted that he remains part of the broader family,” Heath added. Bates operates in 11 countries across the region.
This article first appeared on Campaign Asia.