Bates Follows Hyundai’s Lead

Upton Hire the Latest Step in a Reworking of Account Team
LOS ANGELES–Responding to changes at flagship client Hyundai, Bates USA West is going full speed ahead on revamping its staffing on the account.
The Irvine, Calif., shop last week hired car agency veteran John Upton to serve as executive vice president/group account director on the estimated $150 million Hyundai Motor America business.
Upton, 49, was previously senior vice president at RPalpha, a unit of Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., where he directed the $200 million Honda regional marketing program. In his newly created position, Upton heads up management services on Hyundai, answering to Bates USA West president and chief executive officer Tim Hart.
Hart said Upton had good chemistry with the Bates team and brings a strong automotive background to the table. He managed the $120 million Nissan regional marketing program for the former Chiat/Day from 1990 to 1993. Prior to that he oversaw the $15 million New England Toyota Dealers Association for Saatchi & Saatchi, Boston, and helped manage Toyota’s national truck advertising for Saatchi in Los Angeles.
The addition of Upton follows other recent changes on Bates’ Hyundai team. Earlier this year, creative director Richard Butt left the agency, and creative oversight on Hyundai was moved to New York, under the direction of Bates USA creative director Michael Robertson. Director of client services Tony Taylor also left, and was not replaced [Adweek, May 31]. Prior to that, Victor Emmanuele was named business development manager, automotive, a new post in New York, servicing the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based automaker.
“We had to revamp how we run that business since it has grown dramatically,” Hart said. “We’ve tapped resources in New York, and we’re revamping here to match their commitment and energy level.”
In the last year Hyundai has added a new president, Finbarr O’Neill, and directors of marketing, Dave Weber, and sales, Robert Cosmai.
Insisting the Bates-Hyundai relationship is secure, Weber pointed to to year-to-date sales figures, which are up 56 percent over last year.
Bates will help Hyundai launch four new or redesigned vehicles in the next year, including the Santa Fe sport utility vehicle, due next spring.