Arnold Makes Move on Fidelity

BOSTON-A meeting last week between executives of Fidelity Investments and Arnold Worldwide may lead to a shift of advertising chores from current Fidelity roster shops to Arnold, sources said.

Arnold had recently added Web work from Fidelity [Adweek, Feb. 26], and agency chairman Ed Eskandarian and president Fran Kelly are looking to leverage that relationship—and their ties to client senior vice president of marketing Beth Pasciucco—into additional business, sources said.

Agency executives have on several occasions, including at last week’s meeting, discussed ways of applying the shop’s “brand essence” philosophy to Fidelity in a “broader context than just interactive,” said one source familiar with the situation.

The ultimate goal, sources said, is to unseat roster agencies Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston and Gotham, New York, which handle Fidelity’s retail advertising and promotions for its Powerstreet online trading service, respectively. Both shops are units of the Interpublic Group of Cos.

“We’re not in an agency search and have no plans to move any of our advertising,” said Fidelity spokeswoman Jessica Catino. Eskandarian did not return calls by press time; Kelly declined comment.

Fidelity, the No. 1 mutual funds provider, spends upwards of $150 million on ads annually, according to Competitive Media Reporting. About 80 percent of the budget is believed to be spent through Hill, Holliday.

Pasciucco had worked on the Fleet Financial Group account at Arnold before the client joined with BankBoston last year and consolidated its account with Hill, Holliday. She did not return calls.

Both Pasciucco and Kelly attended the latest meeting, sources said; Eskandarian was in Paris at a board meeting of Arnold parent Havas Advertising.

The Fidelity account has been shaky on several occasions during its five-year tenure at Hill, Holliday. Last spring, the client came close to dismissing Hill, Holliday and launching a review after becoming disenchanted with the shop’s “We help you invest responsibly” positioning, sources said [Adweek, June 10]. Hill, Holliday rescued the account—believed to be its single largest piece of business—after agency CEO Jack Connors brought back former creative star Bill Heater, who had run his own shop, to help craft the current “See yourself succeeding” campaign, sources said.

A Hill, Holliday spokesman declined comment last week. Bachrach