D’Arcy L.A. to Gain 2

D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles’ Los Angeles office is poised to picked up at least two accounts in the wake of the decision to shut the agency’s St. Louis office.

M&M/Mars’ Whiskas cat food and Uncle Ben’s Rice, which had been handled by the St. Louis shop, are ex pected to shift to D’Arcy Los Angeles along with an untold number of staff members, sources said. The shift would add about $25 million in bill ings to the Los Angeles shop: about $10 million from Whiskas and $15 million from Uncle Ben’s.

Neither the client nor a representative from D’Arcy Los Angeles was available at press time.

Meanwhile, D’Arcy’s headquarters in New York is expected to pick up two of the client’s candy brands: Skittles, for which the client spent about $20 million on ads last year, according to CMR, and Combos, for which spending figures were not available.

The St. Louis office opened in 1906. The losses last year of TWA and the shop’s Coca-Cola work left the shop with just two clients.

“It’s sad to see it disappear,” said Charlie Claggett, who started at D’Arcy St. Louis as a copywriter in 1972 and left as its managing director 27 years later.

“At the root of the problem [are] the clients in St. Louis,” he added. He cited one-time D’Arcy clients such as Southwestern Bell, which was acquired by SBC Communications and then consolidated its account at GSD&M in 1998, and TWA, which American Airlines purchased last year.

Another former client, Ralston Purina, is owned by Nestlé and no longer spends with local agencies. “There aren’t as many clients in town that need big agencies,” Claggett said.

That spelled doom for D’Arcy, whose parent, Bcom3, is soon to be acquired by the Publicis Groupe.