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When IBM Personal Computer Co. decided to review its U.S. account last June, it was a windfall for erstwhile agency creative Arthur Einstein, now one of Madison Avenue's hottest consultants.

Mr. Einstein, 60, was tapped by C. Ray Freeman, IBM PC Co.'s recently installed VP-communications, to help orchestrate the effort. The two executives had known each other for years and worked together at New York ad agency Lord Einstein O'Neill & Partners.

Since leaving the agency when it merged to become Lord, Dentsu & Partners in 1991, Mr. Einstein toiled quietly as a creative free-lancer and search consultant.

Quietly, that is, until the PC review.

Although Mr. Einstein said he previously helped orchestrate four agency searches, it was IBM PC's that propelled him from obscurity to a player in the burgeoning consultancy industry. It's a business, Mr. Einstein said, he was drawn to because he liked "being able to be outspoken and say what I believed and not having to be worried about how it impacted billings."

Mr. Einstein, who called himself a "grizzled veteran," stands out because of his roots in the creative side of the agency business, a background he said gives him "an important experience base for evaluating agencies and helping clients understand what's important. Most people who do this come at it from advertising as a dollars-and-cents investment."

Those roots, said Jane Newman, exec VP-director of strategic planning at Merkley Newman Harty, which won IBM PC's U.S. account, make Mr. Einstein effective because he's familiar with what Ms. Newman called the often unorthodox "tricks agencies get up to" when trying to win an account.

Although Mr. Einstein is concentrating on building the search side of Arthur Einstein Advertising, he admitted he still "writes advertising in an emergency" and recently worked on an IBM trade ad.

For the most part, however, he said he can't wear two hats.

"I can't be looking for advertising business [while] advising people on how to look for an agency," he said. "There's a conflict in being a helper and wanting to do the advertising yourself."

For now, he's happiest being a helper, especially since the IBM PC review steered more business his way.

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