Ayer has been expanding operations under new parent McManus Group, which bought the agency in 1996. At the end of 1997, Ayer tapped Julian Boulding, formerly an executive with Salles DMB&B Brazil, Sao Paulo, to lead its international division in an effort to rebuild the global presence it lost when the shop's overseas operations were sold in the 1980's due to financial difficulties.
While a local campaign for Continental Airlines in the New York area drew favorable notice, Ayer has never been known for its cutting-edge creative. However, it was able to parlay that campaign -- which nearly led New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to call for a boycott of Continental due to its negative comments about New York -- into a global assignment from the revamped airline, after falling short in the Delta Air Lines review earlier in the year. Ayer also preserved its Duncan Hines account after Procter & Gamble Co. sold the brand to Aurora Foods.
Ayer is expected to add offices in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo later this year. That should help the agency nail more business from global clients including Continental, KitchenAid and P&G.
Continental may give Ayer additional work if the airline trims its global agency roster as expected in 1998, but like all P&G agencies, Ayer may see its commission rate shrink as P&G goes ahead with plans to revamp its compensation structure.