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Agency Rating: ***1/2

Arnold communications lept into the national limelight in 1997 with its "Sunday Afternoon" Volkswagen ad -- more commonly referred to as the "Da Da Da" spot. Creatively, the agency also made national noise with its quirky Ocean Spray Cranberries and controversial "pop-up video" Bell Atlantic campaigns. Arnold shined on the new-business front, winning Century 21, Hartford Financial Services Group and Circuit City's Digital Video Express. The Boston agency had another reason to be proud: it took second place to TBWA Chiat/Day in the $60 million Apple Computer review. While the industry was speculating about who would acquire Arnold, the agency went on a buying binge of its own, swallowing regional competitor Houston, Herstek, Favat, Boston, known for its Converse and Massachusetts Department of Health antismoking work.


How long can Arnold, one of the remaining viable independent shops, fend off suitors? Chairman Ed Eskadarian, 61, is constantly being courted, and with independents being scarfed down almost daily by hungry multinationals, the price may soon be right.

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