Arnold Communications' stated goal of leveraging the acumen of Houston Herstek Favat, which it recently bought, has paid off with an assignment from the federal government, according to sources.
Arnold has won a $5 million media buying project from the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Md., following a review of undisclosed shops, sources said.
Arnold will buy broadcast, outdoor and newspaper space in select Southern states to support a pilot campaign designed to prevent retailers from selling tobacco products to minors.
The winning pitch was led by former Houston Herstek president Lisa Unsworth, who is now an executive vice president at Arnold. Houston Herstek won creative duties for the account last summer.
FDA representative Ivy Kupec said no decision has been made, but sources said an announcement of Arnold's selection will be made as early as this week, once contract details between the client and agency are finalized. Arnold chief marketing officer Fran Kelly, who oversees new business efforts, declined comment.
Arnold has been especially active on the anti-smoking front since acquiring Houston Herstek, which fashioned award-winning ads for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control Program.
Arnold plans to team with Asher & Partners in Los Angeles, which handles anti-smoking initiatives in California, in the upcoming review for the national anti-smoking account. Winning the FDA pilot program was part of the agency's strategy to place itself in an advantageous position in that upcoming competition, sources said.
As part of a consortium of shops, Asher and Arnold have picked up anti-smoking work in Oregon. The two agencies also have teamed with Creative Design & Marketing in Portland, Maine, for that state's $2-3 million tobacco control assignment.
Separately, Arnold has joined with Beber Silverstein & Partners in Miami to pitch Florida's estimated $70 million tobacco control initiative.