Chesapeake Marketing & Communications and Davis Media Group have combined resources to form the Chess Communications Group.
Based in Baltimore, the new agency reports billings of $55 million and a client roster that includes Best Western International, based in Phoenix, Isle of Capri Casinos in Biloxi, Miss., CitiFinancial in Baltimore and the Philadelphia 76ers' creative account.
Laurie Davis, president of Davis Media Group, will serve as chief executive officer of the new shop. Bruce Iannatuono, Chesapeake Marketing's president, has been named chairman of Chess. Stephen Rogers, former president of Bates Southwest, comes aboard as president and chief operating officer.
"This is a little bit of a merger, a little bit of an acquisition," said Rogers, "but entities with common ownership are moving under one roof to provide seamless service to our clients."
Earlier in his career, Rogers oversaw themerger of Bozell's Houston office into Fogarty Klein Monroe.
Sources suggested one of the factors driving the merger was Davis Media's win of Best Western's estimated $30-40 million business in 2001, an account requiring a full-service ad agency. Chess is also a finalist in the $8-10 million Maryland Lottery review, sources said.
The agency begins operations with two creative directors: Mark Elmore and Mike Dilberto. Sue Lewis will serve as media director; Holly McCulloh, Bob Douglas and Marianne Martino will share account service duties.
Target clients are midsized retail and consumer-driven companies in the mid-Atlantic region.
The merged 55-member staff is scheduled to move into a new, 45,000-square-foot headquarters building in downtown Baltimore in late spring.
Nearly a decade ago, Chesapeake Marketing began partnering with Davis Media to service an expanding roster of mutual clients.
"It got to the point where we needed a real organization and a real merging of forces," saidRogers.