As expected, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles announced Tuesday it is acquiring N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York. Ayer, which reported $850 million in 1995 billings, will function as a separate agency with President-CEO Mary Lou Quinlan retaining her position. Ms. Quinlan will report to DMB&B Chairman-CEO Roy Bostock. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but DMB&B agreed to acquire all of Ayer, including assets and liabilities. Ayer seller W.Y. Choi won't receive stock in privately held DMB&B.
DMB&B and Ayer share Procter & Gamble Co. and General Motors Corp. as clients. Other Ayer clients include Avon, Gillette and AT&T. Ayer will lose the AT&T business, which conflicts with DMB&B's client SBC Communications. AT&T will transfer the business to other agencies on its roster. Which ones haven't been determined, but Interpublic Group is reportedly vying for the account.
The future of Ayer's media and interactive units, the Media Edge and Blue Marble Interactive, also is uncertain. DMB&B will acquire them as part of the deal but hasn't decided whether to keep them. With AT&T as its largest client, Media Edge could move to another AT&T agency along with Ayer's AT&T business.