William C. D'Arcy opened D'Arcy Advertising Co. in St. Louis on Aug. 23, 1906, with Coca-Cola Co. as its only account. Other clients signed by D'Arcy that first year included Plover Hams & Bacon, Three-Minute Oats cereal, Airline honey, Seemore soap, Nature's Remedy elixir and Cascade Whiskey. Coca-Cola raised its ad budget from $3,000 initially to $25,000 the following year.
D'Arcy's work for Coca-Cola attracted the attention of Anheuser-Busch, which in 1914 awarded its Malt Nutrine and Bevo beverages to the shop; the brewer's Budweiser beer account joined them in 1915. The agency's third major national account, General Tire, also signed on in 1915, followed by Cook's Imperial Extra Dry Champagne.
In 1917, the agency's national profile was heightened when Mr. D'Arcy was elected president of the Advertising Federation of America, the forerunner of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. (He later served as chairman of the organization.)
The 1920s were a period of growth, expansion and innovation for the agency. It won other Coca-Cola business and opened its first branch office in Atlanta in 1923 to better service its rapidly growing client. Two transportation clients, Missouri Pacific Lines, a railroad, and White Motor Co., a truck marketer, joined the agency during this decade. At the same time, the General Tire business grew enough to justify D'Arcy's opening an office in its headquarters city of Cleveland in 1929.
The agency produced its first radio ad for Bud Malt syrup in 1920. In the creative area, Archie Lee spearheaded a new campaign for Coca-Cola that helped reposition the beverage from a summer-only drink to a year-round one: the "Thirst Knows No Season" effort.
In 1930, the agency began a research project collecting ads in more than 100 product categories dating back to 1890. The project continued for more than 40 years and grew to include almost 2 million print ads created by many agencies, primarily for consumer products, which the agency used as a source of information and inspiration. (In 1983, the collection was donated to the Communications Library of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.)
In 1931, the agency initiated a campaign for Coca-Cola's Christmas promotion that featured the now-classic image of Santa Claus created by illustrator Haddon Sundblom. The Santa illustration was accompanied by the slogan, "The pause that refreshes." The campaign was an extension of the "Thirst Knows No Season" campaign and the decades-old slogan, "Drink Coca-Cola, delicious and refreshing."
D'Arcy continued to expand, opening a New York office in 1934 and its first international office in Toronto in 1938. That same year, the agency won the accounts of Glenmore Distilleries' Kentucky Tavern, Glenmore and Old Thompson brands.
During the early 1940s, with the advent of World War II, most clients asked for limited product-oriented advertising and instead undertook image campaigns to keep their names before the public without encouraging consumers to shop for products that could not be provided during the war.
Despite the hard times, however, D'Arcy continued to add new clients, including Gerber baby foods, Laclede gas, Bigelow and Lee carpets, Philco appliances, Brown & Williamson cigarettes and Listerine.
By the end of the war, billings had grown to $21 million. Mr. D'Arcy retired and was succeeded by J.F. Oberwinder, who had brought the General Tire account to the agency. Mr. D'Arcy died in 1948, and was posthumously inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.
The 1950s saw pivotal changes at D'Arcy. The agency began experimenting with TV for its national accounts. Its first TV advertising was for Anheuser-Busch, which sponsored the "Ken Murray Show" on CBS. Guest performers also took part in the commercials, and were often shown drinking Budweiser. During those early TV years, Coca-Cola sponsored "Kit Carson", a children's cartoon show.
As network radio and TV took on greater importance in the Coca-Cola media plan, the account moved to D'Arcy's New York office in 1951. But just four years later the agency suffered a devastating blow when Coca-Cola announced that it was moving its account to McCann-Erickson.
During the late 1930s and 1940s, Coke-along with other D'Arcy clients such as Anheuser-Busch, General Tire and Glenmore-had made the agency the largest buyer of outdoor advertising space in the U.S. Despite the loss of Coca-Cola, the agency nearly tripled its billings during the 1950s, from $28 million in 1950 to $80 million in 1960.
In the 1960s, D'Arcy ran a large spread in Life for Anheuser-Busch consisting solely of the Budweiser label, which detailed the product's ingredients and its brewing process. The ad became a huge hit: Readers pulled it out of magazines, framed it and wrote the company in search of other items carrying the Bud label. The phenomenon created a mini-industry for the brewery, which eventually produced hundreds of items sporting Budweiser's label and logo. It also provided the basis for a new ad campaign that showed the label, blown up to outsized proportions, covering the bottom of a swimming pool, a rec room floor and a hot-air balloon.
At about the same time, D'Arcy created innovative outdoor ads to support Budweiser's "Pick a Pair" sales promotion. The campaign, which encouraged consumers to buy two six-packs of Bud rather than a single one, was one of the most successful for the brewer, which brought it back each summer for many years.
The 1960s also saw D'Arcy take steps that led to its growth on the international front. In 1961, it opened its first European office. It also formed a separate company, Synergie-D'Arcy, with French agency Synergie Publicite to provide support for Gerber products as well as those of its French canning partner.
When the decade ended, billings topped $100 million and, eyeing expansion, D'Arcy opened talks with MacManus, John & Adams. In November 1970, the two agencies merged, then formed a partnership with Amsterdam-based Intermarco to become D'Arcy-MacManus-Intermarco. The merger created a company with combined billings of $262 million.
The principal agencies already had offices in several of the same U.S. cities and strong affiliations in Europe. The merger provided an increased presence overseas, with 25 offices in 15 countries, and an expanded list of blue-chip clients. D'Arcy brought American Oil Co., Anheuser-
Busch, Bank of America, General Tire, Gerber's, Ralston Purina, Royal Crown, the U.S. Air Force and Bigelow Sanford. MacManus' client roster included Colgate-Palmolive Co., General Mills, Celanese Corp., Bendix, Dow Chemical, 3M Co. and General Motors Corp. corporate as well as Cadillac and Pontiac accounts.
After the merger was finalized in January 1971, talks began almost immediately with Masius, Wynne-Williams, London. That agency was a leader in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. A partnership was established in 1972 after Intermarco's departure, and the new company became known as D'Arcy-MacManus & Masius; in 1977, the merger was finalized.
An aggressive expansion program in the early 1970s pushed the company into additional international markets, including Australia, Hong Kong, Germany and Spain in addition to 20 other countries. By the mid-1970s, more than half the agency's 2,300 employees worked outside the U.S.
The agency made impressive account gains throughout the decade. New-business wins included accounts for Whirlpool Corp., Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., the American Dairy Association, GM's Parts Division, Chicago Sun-Times, Burger Chef Systems, Heublein, Detroit Free Press, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Red Lobster Inns of America, Mars Inc.'s Milky Way, Westinghouse Elecric Corp., International Telephone & Telegraph Corp., Kal Kan Foods, American Soybean Association, Swensen's Ice Cream Co., Purex Corp., American Telephone & Telegraph Co.'s Phone Center Stores and Florists' Transworld Delivery Association, as well as increased business from the U.S. Air Force, Colgate-Palmolive, Anheuser-Busch and Mars' Summit and Twix candy bars.
Overseas gains included the accounts of Whirlpool International, ITT International, Colgate toothpaste, Rust-Oleum, Bank of America, Castrol, Corning Glass tableware, Uncle Ben's rice, Players cigarettes, London Sunday Express, Haig whisky, Marley Tiles, Golden Wonder Crisps, Dunlop motorcycle tires, Snugglers diapers, Harveys of Bristol, Greyhound Coaches, Cinzano, Sherwin-Williams, General Foods, Barclays Bank, Norsk Citroen, Iberia Airlines, Lipton, Bayer and the Colombian Coffee Federation. In 1979 alone, the company gained 119 accounts in 19 countries.
Notable TV campaigns from the 1970s included those featuring "Mr. Goodwrench" for GM parts; Suzanne Sommers singing, "Ace Is the Place with the Helpful Hardware Man"; Ed McMahon and, briefly, Frank Sinatra for Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser; John Forsythe and Robert Urich for Anheuser-Busch's Michelob and Michelob Light; a toothy, animated alligator for Baggies; Ray Stevens for Flav-O-Rich; and Jack Nicklaus for Pontiac station wagons.
Other memorable creative included Pontiac's "Driving excitement," Michelob's "Weekends were made for Michelob" and "Put a little weekend in your week," "Downright upright" (for Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry), "Sooner or later, you'll own Generals" (General Tire) and "Five kings of Africa" (Budweiser). One of the best known and most enduring campaigns was Budweiser's "For all you do. This Bud's for you," which was revived in the 1990s.
The tumultuous '80s
By 1980, the agency had topped $1 billion in worldwide billings. Worldwide gross income of $156 million placed D'Arcy No. 10 among U.S. agencies, but more than half its income came from outside the U.S.
D'Arcy saw modest gains in billings and income in the early 1980s, but began to look for another partner to strengthen both its New York office and its overseas capabilities. Toward that end, the renamed D'Arcy MacManus Masius Worldwide merged the de Garmo agency into its New York office in 1980, doubling the size of that office. De Garmo brought billings of almost $60 million from clients such as Drexel Heritage Furnishings, CPC International, Finnair, Pitney Bowes, Lorillard's True cigarettes and Burlington Domestics. It also brought two subsidiaries: Poppe Tyson, a business-to-business agency, and Spanish Advertising Marketing Services, the largest U.S. Hispanic consumer agency. (DMM lost the $20 million True account and others when John de Garmo, president-CEO of de Garmo, resigned in 1982.)
In January 1984, the agency lost $40 million in overseas business from its longtime Colgate-Palmolive account when the client decided to consolidate its business. That loss forced D'Arcy to redouble efforts to improve its international network.
D'Arcy offset the loss of Colgate-Palmolive with the $50 million account of the Dairy Promotion Federation in July 1984, but almost immediately faced the stunning loss of its longtime Michelob and Michelob Light business. That account represented $60 million in billings to the agency's St. Louis office, which earlier had lost the $30 million Red Lobster restaurant business. At about the same time, the New York office lost $21 million in Mars business.
The following year, a troubled D'Arcy merged with Benton & Bowles to form D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.