Report by Jeffrey Yu
t Bates 141, our vision is to be 'The Change Agency'. This is a very compelling philosophy for us, given the exponential changes happening in Asia and that many key changes are increasingly coming out of this part of the world.
To bring us closer to our vision, we executed our strategy in high gear and ended 2007 with great positive change.
First, we made significant management hires. Top Asia creative, Sonal Dabral joined us as regional executive creative director and chairman for India. John Lambie, one of Asia's most highly awarded digital talents, joined as regional digital creative director. We appointed Frederique Covington to regional head of planning and established a Strategic Planning Council to elevate the talent in our planning community and drive thought leadership. We also formed an executive committee to bolster our activation business and drive it to new levels.
Being an Asia-dedicated network can only be true if we have leadership presence and critical geographic mass in strategic hubs, and in 2007 we enjoyed double-digit growth in our key markets – China, Hong Kong and India – through organic new business wins and M&A.
Our biggest new business win was assisting with the regional account for Dell, with Bates 141 helping the cross-Group team. Across the network, our most significant wins were Virgin Mobile, AIG, Fiat, LG Electronics, Huawei, Mengniu, Shell, Toshiba and Telkom Indonesia, among many others. We move into 2008 with improved revenues and a well-balanced portfolio of clients.
Acquisitions in 2007 added greater content to our 'Change' positioning and enhanced our offering to clients in terms of geographical coverage and the type of change-building work – from first mile to last – for both multinational and Asian clients. We agreed to acquire MeThinks in China, strengthening our activation footprint across the whole of Asia. We also formed BatesApex in West China and 141 Sercon in India and Southeast Asia. 2008 will see us completing all acquisition deals that were started in 2007.
Going forward, we will also focus more on integrating our partners into one company with one vision. Integration is already in the works, from relocating to the same office, to training and joint new business initiatives.
Internally, we rolled out programs to further entrench our 'Change' culture and integrate our business units under this common philosophy.
In 2007, we appointed David Meredith to chief talent officer and rolled out the most comprehensive training program in the history of our agency. We delivered our ChangePoint Planning training to more than 500 of our people across the network, with programs being cascaded down at a local level. An intensive Digital Boot Camp was held and cascaded to all our people. We introduced ChangeROOM, our knowledge management database, to encourage learning and collaboration. Last but not least, we launched the Young Change Agent leadership program with 20 Young Change Agents – our rising stars.
We ended the year with greater content to our 'Change Agency' vision and a far more substantial offer for clients in terms of talent, tools, disciplinary and geographical coverage. In 2008 and beyond, we remain focused on helping our clients understand and leverage the new consumer dynamic happening across Asia, and delivering solutions that resonate with and activate our fast-changing consumers.