DMB&B'S Melzer Exits, Blasts N.Y.

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The managing director of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' big St. Louis office quit suddenly last week, lashing out at the agency's New York management.

Bill Melzer, who moved to the DMB&B office five years ago, said: "There are major philosophical differences between myself and the corporate management on how to run an agency. It is my opinion that there is too much attention focused on New York to the detriment of other offices and their clients."

Mr. Melzer resigned to DMB&B Chairman-CEO Roy Bostock on May 16, then held an hourlong staff meeting in St. Louis on May 19 to detail his complaints. He left the next day.

In an interview, Mr. Melzer said "the straw that broke the camel's back" was the initial failure of DMB&B's New York management to provide promised local media buying support that was vital to the St. Louis agency winning the $100 million Blockbuster Entertainment Corp. account in December.

Though the Blockbuster conflict was eventually resolved, Mr. Melzer said it was only one of a series of incidents during the past year. The most public was January's embarrassment when the agency's largest client, Anheuser-Busch, learned from an Advertising Age reporter that DMB&B's TeleVest media buying subsidiary in New York had accepted business from archrival Miller Brewing Co.

"TeleVest was a good example where we got blindsided," said Mr. Melzer, 48. "It was a buying operation, and we didn't know a thing about it. We don't do business that way."

At the staff meeting, he said that management had interfered with the St. Louis office's ability to go after business.

"We have grown from $324 million to $484 million in billings [in five years], won some major pieces of new business against tough competition in bringing [A-B's] Michelob back and had the biggest account win in the history of the corporation in Blockbuster," Mr. Melzer said.

Mr. Bostock called the resignation a "shock."

"There's something going on here that I don't completely understand," Mr. Bostock said from St. Louis, where he and DMB&B North American President Clayton Wilhite flew last week to meet with Mr. Melzer. Mr. Bostock said Mr. Melzer "was highly critical of our investments in Asia, which we think is important to the overall health of the company."

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