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(June 19, 2001) -- Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., is partnering with independent shop Martin Advertising, Birmingham, Ala., to handle General Motors Corp.'s local Pontiac and Cadillac dealer ad groups.

The joint venture, called the D'Arcy Martin Group, will start with two full-service offices in Troy and Birmingham. The account service offices will work from D'Arcy's existing offices in GM's five regions.

Terms of the deal were not revealed.

GM eliminated the ad groups in April 1999, but has reinstated them in a different form in recent months. GM has said it wants groups in the top 50 markets, and the agency venture will work with the automaker to persuade dealers to participate. GM said in mid-April it had 70-plus groups already.

Before the groups were eliminated, Martin had nearly 20 years experience handling many Pontiac local dealer groups. Since the groups were cut, Martin has continued doing work for individual GM dealers.

To start, the venture will have 50 staffers from the two shops, a D'Arcy spokesman said. David Martin, president of the agency bearing his name, has the same title at the new agency. He will report to D. Stan Fields, chief operating officer of D'Arcy, Troy, who in turn reports to Patrick Sherwood, president of D'Arcy North America and based in Troy.

Compensation will be all fee based. Interpublic Group of Cos.' LCI, New York and Troy, Mich., will handle buys. The non-stock venture involves both shared investment and revenues.

Mr. Martin said it's too early to discuss billings because the groups are still forming. -- Jean Halliday

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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