N W Ayer Rides Off into Sunset After 133 Years

08 April 2002

In a housekeeping move ahead of its acquisition by Publicis, Bcom3 has merged its venerable New York agency N W Ayer & Partners into sister Manhattan shop the Kaplan Thaler Group.

Founded in Philadelphia as N W Ayer & Son in 1869, the agency is indelibly written into America’s social history books for its campaigns during the formative years of Bell Telephone, Camel cigarettes and the Model A Ford. Memorable slogans from the pens of NWA copywriters include ‘A diamond is forever’ for De Beers; ‘Reach out and touch someone’ for AT&T; and ‘When it rains it pours’ for Morton salt.

As of today, Ayer’s fifty staff will transfer to Kaplan Thaler, a five-year-old stripling, thereby doubling the latter’s headcount and lifting its billings from around $225 million (€256.38m; £156.84m ) to $325m. Ayer clients include: Continental Airlines, the KitchenAid division of Maytag and Villeroy & Boch.

The name ‘Ayer’ goes out the window forthwith. Says Bcom3 chairman/ceo Roger Haupt: “The situation is very clear. [Kaplan Thaler] has been extremely successful and we wanted to build on that success.” He denied that the move is connected with the group’s upcoming takeover by Publicis.

Ayer president/ceo Mary Beth Casey (46) is to “pursue several opportunities” at Bcom3 or Publicis, while Ayer’s archives and campaign materials will be donated to the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff