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Saatchi & Saatchi Co. was expected to announce this day in May 1986 that it will acquire Ted Bates Worldwide for $450 million, a move that would immediately realize the London-based company's ambition to be the No. 1 ad agency group in the world.

Excluding possible client fallout, Saatchi's worldwide advertising empire will now include $7.6 billion in billings in 150 offices. Bates is likely to resign its Colgate-Palmolive business since Procter & Gamble is more important to the Saatchi organization.

The deal -- by far the biggest in advertising history -- rewrites the rankings only two weeks after BBDO International-Doyle Dane Bernbach Group-Needham Harper Worldwide shook them up with their formation of a $5 billion operation.

This acquisition is expected to test how much clients are willing to tolerate in the way of conflicts. While Bates and its subsidiaries, such as William Esty Co., will remain independent, the purchase brings into the same agency-owned family of networks many competitive advertisers and products, Toyota and Nissan, Tylenol and Anacin, to name a few.

Considering where Saatchi now stands, it's hard to believe it entered the U.S. and top agency rankings only four years ago, when it acquired Compton Communications. The Saatchi desire to be No. 1 was fueled by the early recognition that agencies outside the very largest groups would be vulnerable.

The Saatchi brothers, Maurice and Charles, contend that to be one of the mega-agencies would be a great prize and would give the agency a strong and secure

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