Bates, Brouillard: A Conflict-Free Fit

Sizable public relations offerings at both agencies and a lack of conflicts led WPP Group to make Bates Southwest Advertising & Public Relations part of Brouillard Communications, agency officials said last week.

On Jan. 1, Bates SW in Houston will become New York-based Brouillard’s fifth office and add $55 million to the shop’s existing $100 million in billings. The office, whose name will change to Brouillard, will continue to be led by president Judi Martin, who becomes managing director/general manager, reporting to Brouillard president and CEO Bill Lyddan in New York.

Talks to make the office part of Brouillard began three weeks after WPP’s Aug. 1 acquisition of former Bates parent Cordiant Communications Group, said Martin. The shop laid off five staffers as a result and now employs 20 people. Martin confirmed that among those let go was svp Mike Albrecht, who handled new business. That will now be shared by her and other execs, she said.

The agency’s accounts include three Popeyes regional franchise groups and Chevron, Martin said.

Bates in New York is in the process of being shuttered, as most remaining clients moved to WPP’s J. Walter Thompson. Bates’ offices in Dublin, Ohio, and Irvine, Calif., closed last year when Bates lost Wendy’s in August and Hyundai in April.

The fate of offices in Indianapolis and Atlanta remains undecided, executives said.

Sources said executives at Bates USA Midwest in Indianapolis are seeking to buy that shop. Agency chairman Dan Roman declined to comment on those rumors but said, “I’m not ruling out anything.”

Bates South in Miami, which employs just five people, is likely to become part of Ogilvy & Mather, sources said.