Arnold Machinations

Arnold last week bid farewell to Verizon Communications, one of the agency’s longest standing clients, as it intensified efforts to expand its relationship with Fidelity Investments.

Officials at the Boston agency on Thursday met with top executives of Fidelity, focusing on ways the agency’s “brand essence” philosophy can be applied to the client’s Powerstreet online brokerage, sources said.

Arnold, which earlier this year won interactive projects from Fidelity, is gunning at the very least to wrest some Powerstreet work from Gotham, New York—but the ultimate goal is to unseat Fidelity lead agency Hill, Holliday Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, sources have said. Powerstreet spending was estimated as high as $50 million in 1999 when Gotham launched the service. Fidelity spends upward of $120 million through Hill, Holliday.

A Fidelity spokeswoman said no agency change is imminent. Gotham CEO Stone Roberts said Fidelity had raised “no issues of dissatisfaction with our performance.” Arnold executives declined comment on Fidelity.

Verizon, along with its precursors Bell Atlantic, Nynex and New England Telephone, had been with Arnold and its predecessors for 47 years before consolidating some $400 million in ad chores with Interpublic Group shops Lowe Lintas & Partners and Draft, both in New York. Arnold, Temerlin McClain in Irving, Texas, and The Lord Group in New York, lost business in the move. Arnold president Fran Kelly said Verizon spending at Arnold, projected at less than $25 million in 2001, had dipped in recent years.