ARNOLD COMMUNICATIONS

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Agency Rating: 3 1/2

Arnold Communications smoked the competition and walked away with the largest account win of 1999: the estimated $250 million anti-smoking account of the American Legacy Foundation.

That accounted for almost two-thirds of Arnold's $375 million net new business last year. The Boston-based agency got the $70 million nod from Royal Caribbean International along with $20 million in work from EMC Corp. and business from clients such as Talbots, FootJoy Worldwide and Ocean Spray Cranberries.

Well known for its "Drivers wanted" spots for Volkswagen of America, Arnold continued to turn out arresting work that helped the automaker boost '99 sales 40%.

The agency also helped another new client, online educational toy marketer Toysmart.com, become one of the most-visited sites during the Christmas buying season, besting retail giants such as Wal-Mart.com, JCrew.com and L.L.Bean.com, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings, which tracks the Web market.

The departure of Director of Consumer Insight Kristin Volk to Deutsch, Boston, and the loss of VP- Group Creative Director Lance Jensen to start his own agency-Modernista!-were unexpected but don't appear to have hurt the agency.

Arnold's new business came amid the loss of two accounts: Fleet Financial Services, which left when Fleet merged with Bank Boston; and SAP, which tapped Arnold, then shifted three months later to Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York.

Looking ahead

Arnold management is considered very stable, despite the sale talks of parent Snyder Communications. The agency is considered large and stable enough that it is not at particular risk from competitors such as the new Deutsch, Boston.

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