Kelly McGovern has declared war on Barbie--and all mass-marketed toys for that matter.
Toysmart.com's chief marketing officer, who is looking to change the way parents, kids and educators think about and buy toys, last week tapped Arnold Communications in Boston to help.
McGovern believes that the three barriers to educational toy purchase--awareness, availability and pricing--will quickly be knocked down by an aggressive $10 million multimedia campaign that Toysmart.com will launch by summer.
Arnold won the account over the team of Partners & Simons in Boston and Carat Freeman in Newton, Mass.
Carat Freeman president Ellen Freeman said her agency withdrew from the competition just before final presentations were scheduled to take place, citing a potential conflict of interest. That decision left Partners without a media resource.
Carat Freeman handles Toysmart.com competitor Smartkids Publishing Co. in Newton, Mass., which primarily sells books and educational videos for gifted children from its Web site (www.smartkids.com).
While Carat Freeman convinced Toysmart.com that it could handle both accounts and guarantee confidentiality, according to Freeman, Smartkids didn't accept it.
"We're not the kind of agency to kick out an existing client for another opportunity," Freeman said.
Partners' principal Gib Trub would not comment on the pitch or the effect Carat Freeman's exit had on his agency's effort.
Arnold's first meeting with Toysmart.com was last Thursday. The framework of its campaign idea was presented to client executives during the pitch and McGovern said those ideas will now be tested and refined.
Some paid media may begin as early as next month, but McGovern said the biggest push is timed for the fourth quarter.
One portion of the integrated marketing assignment that Arnold did not win was public relations. That is handled by Pan Communications in Andover, Mass.
Arnold's pitch team included executive vice presidents Kathy Kiely and Ken Umansky. Kiely, a creative director, was recently reassigned to the new business department. Umansky joined Arnold a few weeks ago from The Richards Group in Dallas.