GM Shuts Down Ayer

N.W. Ayer & Partners will close its Detroit office by the end of the year after losing the $30 million General Motors corporate assignment after 28 years.

GM moved the business without a review to its Buick shop, McCann-Erickson, which handled several corporate-wide initiatives over the past few years.

“While we have had a long and productive client/agency relationship with N.W. Ayer & Partners, we believe this consolidation with McCann will integrate our strategic and tactical efforts.” GM marketing executive John Middlebrook said in a statement.

Speculation swirled following GM’s announcement that the loss could be a fatal blow not just to Ayer Detroit but the whole agency. Parent company Bcom3 attempted to dispel such rumors, releasing a statement from CEO Roger Haupt that said the holding company “remains committed to Ayer and to leveraging the talents and strengths of its people who have a proven track record of creating some of America’s most famous and enduring brands.”

Folding Ayer into one its other agencies would be difficult because Ayer New York handles Continental Airlines, while D’Arcy St. Louis has TWA and Leo Burnett handles Delta.

Ayer also claims to have picked up an assignment, which it declined to disclose, to add to three accounts totalling $50 million won earlier this year.

In Detroit, Bcom3 is “doing everything possible” to reassign the eight employees who worked on GM to other units, said Luana Floccuzio, who took over the post of executive vice president and managing director at Ayer’s Detroit office last year. Floccuzio, a former marketing executive at GM, said her future has not been decided. Another top Ayer Detroit executive, Skip Roberts, plans to retire at year’s end.

Plans were already underway to consolidate the Bcom3 resources in Detroit, as Ayer in July had moved its offices from downtown Detroit to the Bcom3 building in Troy, Mich.