SAN FRANCISCO: Hotwire has named Barbara Bates as CEO seven months after acquiring her agency, Eastwick Communications, last September.
Bates has served as Hotwire’s North America CEO since the deal. She was promoted on Monday to succeed Brendon Craigie, who announced his resignation in March to pursue other interests after 16 years at the technology-focused agency.
Bates is reporting to Matthew Melhuish, CEO of parent company Enero, a boutique network of marketing and communications businesses that also includes, BMF, CPR, Dark Blue Sea, Frank PR, and Naked Communications.
She is overseeing Hotwire’s global leadership team, comprised of Group Chief Development Officer Andy West; Group CFO Adrian Talbot; Group MD for EMEA, Australia, and New Zealand Alex MacLaverty; and North American President Heather Kernahan, as well as the firm’s 250 employees in nine offices.
"This is not a situation where I am coming in to fix anything; it’s actually the opposite," said Bates. "Our fiscal ends June 30. We are already on track for this to be our best year ever, and we have lots of great momentum throughout all regions." Hotwire’s 2016 revenue was $31.7 million, up 35% from the previous year.
Bates added that she is focused on growth by expanding the firm’s footprint and services.
The agency does not plan to replace her as North American CEO; Kernahan will continue to lead Hotwire’s U.S. operations as president of North America while absorbing Bates’ duties.
"With me based in the U.S. and having a U.S. president, we feel like we are more than covered there," Bates said. "We think the big growth opportunities overall will either come from or through the U.S., so even though I am taking on the global role, a big part of what is going to benefit the agency globally is how we perform in the U.S."
Hotwire bought Eastwick Communications, where Bates was CEO, to grow its presence in the U.S. and boost its position as a technology shop in North America. Hotwire also entered the Latin American market in September through a strategic partnership with Sao Paulo-based integrated firm Vianews. It launched a global health technology practice last June.
Hotwire has a presence in countries including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Australia. It partners with Yellow Communications in the Netherlands and Belgium, Active in the Middle East, Vianews in Brazil, and other affiliate partners.
The firm named Laura Macdonald as its first head of consumer for North America at the start of the year.