Michigan Shops SMZ, Samco Merge

Added Heft Is Expected to Help With New Business, Recruiting
DETROIT–Simons Michelson Zieve and Stone, August, Medrich & Co. have reached an agreement to merge under the SMZ name.
Together, the Troy, Mich., agencies will claim billings of about $65 million, said Mort Zieve, who remains chairman of SMZ.
About half of the 40 employees at Stone, August, Medrich & Co. (known as Samco) will move to SMZ’s offices, which are being enlarged to accommodate the added staff and clients.
Samco and its public relations division, August & Partners, will both become separate divisions of SMZ, said Ron Stone, Samco’s former chairman. The Samco name will eventually be phased out, he said.
The combined entity will have a total of 75 employees.
Stone and Samco president Jim August will become executive management advisers to SMZ. In addition to Zieve as chairman, Jim Michelson remains president of the agency. Harvey Gabor remains executive creative director, with Samco’s Jim Gentry assuming the role of creative director.
The creative staffs will blend together, and Gabor and Gentry are expected to essentially work as co-creative directors despite their different titles, Michelson said.
The combination of resources will give the agency the “critical mass” it needs to compete for larger clients, Stone said. Aggressive new-business plans call for concentrating on the healthcare, retail and financial service categories, he said.
“We will have all the abilities of a big agency, but the agility, leanness and personalized services of a smaller agency,” Zieve said.
The added heft and expanded client list are also expected to attract higher-caliber creative and account executives, said Rich Williams, who will be a senior management officer at SMZ.
Mergers are not new to the executives at Samco. The former Stone August Baker merged with BK&M in Ann Arbor, Mich., in November 1997. Unlike that deal, which was complicated by client conflicts, Samco and SMZ’s account rosters are apparently compatible. SMZ’s accounts include Big Boy Restaurants and the Michigan Lottery. Samco brings clients such as the Wellness Plan and Hatteras Yachts.