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D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles put up a brave front after losing the prestigious Anheuser-Busch business.

"We are obviously devastated by the loss, but are in the fortunate position to have won more new business than we are losing," said Charlie Claggett, the St. Louis office president and chief creative officer.

Mr. Claggett said the office has picked up $170 million in new business in the past 10 months, including Blockbuster Entertainment Corp. and Trans World Airlines.

Billings are now an estimated $370 million; other high-profile clients are Ralston Foods, Southwestern Bell Corp. and Mars Inc.

Mr. Claggett said he is not even sure the agency will have to lay off any of its 325 staffers.

Still, there are possible problems. Blockbuster was recently acquired by Viacom, and the only Blockbuster executive involved in last year's review, Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Jim Hilmer, left in July.

George D. Johnson, the president of the entertainment giant's domestic consumer division, isn't considered warm to agencies or marketing in general and has no affinity towards DMB&B.

One former Blockbuster marketing executive said all the changes leave room for former agency Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., to try to regain the $100 million business. Agency principal Bob Bernstein is Blockbuster's third-largest franchisee.

Further, TWA's past money troubles offers another worry for DMB&B, and Southwestern Bell recently moved its headquarters from St. Louis.

Meanwhile, A-B for years was rock solid. The ties went back to 1914 when the brewer asked D'Arcy Advertising to help sell Malt Nutrine, a bottle tonic. In 1915, it began using the agency for Budweiser. Only during Prohibition was Budweiser not advertised.

The agency helped revolutionize beer advertising in 1956, picturing everyday drinkers rather than pitching beer as champagne-like.

Cementing the relationship were family ties. Jim Orthwein, who became chairman of the agency, was a Busch cousin who owned a block of Anheuser-Busch shares.

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