Citizens Bank Moves to Arnold

BOSTON-Size matters to Citizens Bank. Citing a desire to work with an agency with broader resources as it contemplates further expansion, Citizens has moved its advertising account from Holland Mark Advertising to Arnold Worldwide.

Spending with Holland Mark had been in the $15-17 million range; spending is expected to increase to more than $40 million with Arnold, as Citizens increases not only its media advertising budget but its direct and interactive efforts as well, sources said.

In recent years, Citizens has grown, mainly through acquisition, into the region’s second-largest banking company, with about $30 billion in assets. The client now looks to Arnold—which ranks as New England’s largest traditional agency, some four times Holland Mark’s size—to help it grow on its home turf and beyond.

“[Arnold] has huge resources. They’re right in our back yard. The time seemed right to switch,” said Citizens senior vice president and marketing director Theresa McLaughlin.

In addition to the breadth of its service offerings, Arnold’s vaunted brand-building prowess—mainly for Volkswagen of America, and Talbot’s—also impressed Citizens. “They understand that you have to add some magic to your advertising,” McLaughlin said.

“They’re an aggressive marketer,” noted Arnold president and COO Fran Kelly. “They have a lot of growth potential.”

Holland Mark had fashioned ads for Citizens touting the institution as “Not your typical bank,” a line that will likely be retained for the short term, McLaughlin said.

It is unclear if the loss will precipitate layoffs at Holland Mark, which employs about 200, according to agency president Chris Colbert. “We think we’re OK,” Colbert said. “Hopefully, there won’t be [layoffs].” The independent agency shed 20-25 employees late last year following the departure of its TJX Cos. business.

Arnold, a unit of French firm Havas Advertising, had previously worked for FleetBoston, the region’s No. 1 bank, before that business was consolidated with Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. Arnold’s office in McLean, Va., works for PNC Bank, which is not currently considered a conflict with Citizens.