Laughlin/Constable Acquires Ayer, Prepares For Rebirth In Chicago

After more than two decades in Milwaukee, Laughlin/ Constable is entering the Chicago market in a move that positions the agency for quicker and more substantial growth, its executives said last week.
L/C last week acquired N.W. Ayer & Partners’ Chicago office from the MacManus Group and merged the shops under the L/C banner. Ayer Chicago president Dean Proctor will retain his title at the combined shop.
“This radically changes the perception of us,” said Steve Laughlin, who remains managing partner of L/C, along with John Constable.
Laughlin and Constable, who began their careers as an art director and copywriter team, will retain creative leadership of the agency. Proctor’s background is in account management, and he will handle that end.
The newly expanded L/C claims billings of $150 million, with clients such as Bridgestone/Firestone and Wolverine Worldwide from Ayer Chicago and Carson Pirie Scott & Co. and OshKosh B’Gosh from L/C’s Milwaukee office.
When MacManus Group acquired Ayer parent Adcom in 1996, it announced it would keep the Chicago office, although a sale had been expected. However, Ayer Chicago’s regional GMC dealership account was transferred to MacManus-owned agency J. Wilson & Associates in Albuquerque, N.M. Recently, Ayer Chicago has handled project assignments for Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and others.
L/C had been investigating a Chicago operation for a couple of years, Laughlin said. Ayer Chicago had “a need for critical mass,” Proctor said.
The agency will now embark upon a reinvigorated new business push, led by Carla Minsky, who has been named director of new business development. “We’re jumping in with both feet,” Proctor said.
The agency said it will not divide its clients between Chicago and Milwaukee, but will attempt to use talent and resources from both offices as needed.
“Our hope is to have a truly integrated operation,” Laughlin said.
The merger did not result in any layoffs or client conflicts, Laughlin and Proctor said.