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Arnold Attracts Wolf Group As Buyer, $50 Mil. Client

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While executives at Arnold Communications worked to determine which of its offices would handle a $50 million assignment from Circuit City, a Canadian agency has signed a letter of intent to buy New England's largest shop.
While admitting he is "not optimistic" that a deal will be finalized, Wolf Group chairman and chief executive officer Larry Wolf said last week he had a letter of intent signed Sept. 8 by Arnold chairman and chief executive Ed Eskandarian.
"This letter locks us up until April of 1998," Wolf said in a telephone interview last week. "I'm not optimistic about our deal concluding," he added. Arnold chief marketing officer Fran Kelly, who confirmed the negotiations, downplayed the significance of the letter. "I absolutely can guarantee that this deal will never happen," he said.
Separately, Kelly said Arnold had landed the launch of Digital Video Express or Divx, a new technology that puts movies on digital disks that have a built-in pay-per-view system. The home video rental product is being developed by Circuit City.
Peter Hanley, president of Arnold in McLean, Va., helped spearhead the agency's winning presentation last Monday. Staffing issues, as well as which Arnold office would be tapped to service the account, should be decided soon, Hanley said.
"We haven't met with the client, but it will probably be serviced out of both [the McLean and Boston] offices," Hanley explained.
Part of the question is whether the new creative team in Arnold's McLean office has the level of broadcast advertising expertise needed to handle an account of this size, said an agency executive last week. That team, Flora Nicholas and Paul Gayter, was recently relocated by Arnold from its office in Richmond, Va., to McLean. The creative portion of the Divx pitch was developed by Alan Marcus in Boston.