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Ad Agency Founder Quits to 'Visit the World'

March 03, 1987|LILY ENG | Times Staff Writer

When Richard J. Reiser left his old job as vice president of a prospering advertising agency a dozen years ago, he was full of ideas.

So, with $6,000 in borrowed money, he started his own agency.

Now Reiser, chairman of Reiser Williams DeYong, one of the largest advertising agencies in Orange County, and his wife, Gail, a vice president in the company, have another wonderful idea. They are retiring from the business, he said, "to follow Route 66 and visit the world."

Reiser Williams DeYong, owned by Mickleberry Corp. since 1983, was sold to advertising giant N.W. Ayer & Son Inc. of New York in December as part of a $25-million package deal that included several other of Mickleberry's advertising agency subsidiaries.

Ayer will take over operation of Reiser Williams later this year, said Brad Lynch, Ayer's vice president of corporate communications.

Marcy Williams, a partner who gave the agency its middle name, left several years ago. James DeYong, vice president and creative director, will remain with the firm, which will lose its local identity and become a branch of N.W. Ayer.

Tour the World

The Reisers, who had decided to retire before the sale to Ayer, say they will only come back to their old headquarters for visits. They say they do not know what they will be doing after they finish their tour of the world.

"There's so few people who can start anew with a clean slate and money in the jeans," Reiser said. "Now it's time to have some real fun."

"When I told our people that we were leaving, somebody said to me, 'I don't understand. The kid is suppose to leave home, not the parents," said Reiser during an interview Monday in the agency's headquarters in Irvine. The company has another office in San Francisco.

With more than 20 clients and $40 million in annual billings, Reiser Williams DeYong, which has 85 employees, has flourished by attracting high technology clients and winning more than 200 advertising awards in the past 12 years.

Robert Guzman, a principal in Guzman and Gerrie Advertising Agency, said he has nothing but admiration for Reiser.

"I have called him and asked his opinion on many things even though we are considered competitors," Guzman said. "But he's always had the policy of maintaining friendly ties with everyone across the business."

Set Three Goals

From the start, Reiser--now 46--called his advertising agency "an experiment." He set three goals for company employees to follow: Do great work, have fun and make money.

"Dick has always thought if you do the first two right, the third one would take care of itself, and it has," said Gail Reiser, who said she and her husband lately have joined their employees in laser-toy battles at the office.

Reiser did well for himself and the company by concentrating on high technology advertising. Taking advantage of Orange County's attractive setting for high-tech companies, Reiser and his creative teams used unusual themes to attract the new industries.

"At first this kind of advertising was called industrial," Reiser said, shaking his head. "It was like the stepchild of advertising. So then we started calling it 'high-tech advertising' for our clients. And we also concentrated on making the products look different and interesting."

Besides attractive clients, the company also won awards for its creativity.

Reiser is one of the "fathers of Orange County in advertising," said Louise Michaels, president of the Orange County Advertising Club which gives creativity awards to local advertising agencies.

"He was the force behind the company, making it creative and bright and new," Michaels said. "Year after year, the company just kept winning our awards."

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