Post-Keyes-Gardner

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Created by merger of Post, Morr & Gardner and Keyes, Madden & Jones Advertising, both Chicago, 1963; forged international partnership with Brunning Group, London, 1967; merged with Cunningham & Walsh, 1978.


Post-Keyes-Gardner was created in 1963 through the merger of Post, Morr & Gardner and Keyes, Madden & Jones Advertising. With roughly $30 million in annual billings, the new agency immediately became one of the five largest advertising agencies in Chicago.

Post Keyes embarked on a tense set of negotiations in 1963 with Maxon Inc., Detroit, in a proposed merger said to have the potential to become the third-largest in advertising history, creating an agency with annual billings estimated at $70 million. The talks soured, however and the deal fell through.

Also in 1963, Post Keyes acquired a longtime Leo Burnett Co. client, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co., a $2 million account. Post Keyes opened an office in Honolulu in 1964 to handle the Primo Beer and Kona Coffee accounts, the former a recent acquisition of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co.

Shifting accounts

In 1965, Gordon Conn, marketing director of Florists' Transworld Delivery Association, joined Post Keyes as chief of the agency's Detroit office. As a result of Mr. Conn's move, FTDA shifted its $2 million account to Post Keyes. In spite of the FTDA business, Post Keyes suffered when two of its accounts left the agency that year. Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. took away the Old Milwaukee beer account, which had an annual ad budget estimated at $4 million; then candy maker E.J. Brach & Co., a Post Keyes client that had shifted agencies five times in the early '60s, went to Arthur Meyerhoff Associates, taking with it more than $1 million in annual spending.

Following those losses, Post Keyes claimed $40.7 million in billings the following year, roughly $4 million more than in 1965. Amana Refrigeration Co. signed with Post Keyes that year in what turned out to be a three-year relationship resulting in about $1 million in annual spending. The W.A. Scheaffer Pen Co., an account valued at about $1 million, signed with Post Keyes in 1966.

Post Keyes made its first foray into international advertising in 1967, after forging a partnership with Brunning Group, London, Britain's No. 7 ad agency. At yearend, Post Keyes had about $360,000 in overseas billings.

In 1969, six years after serving as the principal architect of Post Keyes, Mr. Post retired at 54, having built the agency into an industry powerhouse that claimed $46 million in annual billings.

The 1970s

In 1970, La Choy Food Products, a division of Beatrice Foods Co., signed a contract with Post Keyes beginning in January 1971, to introduce a new line of frozen Chinese food.

In 1973, Post Keyes' longtime client B&W Tobacco consolidated its media buying and planning, and as a result, Post Keyes became responsible for all media for B&W's Kool, Viceroy, Raleigh and Belair cigarette brands. In 1972, B&W had spent $22 million in print alone for the four brands.

Also in 1973, client Alberto-Culver handed Post Keyes business worth an estimated $5 million in billings. Less than a year later, however, the peripatetic Alberto-Culver transferred its products to Arthur & Wheeler.

In 1975, the agency lost Schering-Plough's $10 million Maybelline cosmetics division, as well as smaller accounts for Masonite Corp.'s hardboard division and Peter Hand Brewing Co.'s Old Chicago beers. But the following year, Post Keyes won Paterno Imports' Gancia Asti Spumante account, valued at $500,000.

By 1978, Post Keyes was billing $80 million annually. In September of that year, Cunningham & Walsh announced it would merge with Post Keyes to gain a foothold in the Midwest that would complement its Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, and the Post Keyes name disappeared.

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