BOSTON-A decision is expected any day in a review being conducted by Staples that pits Arnold Communications against Cliff Freeman & Partners and an undisclosed player.
All three shops have made presentations to officials at the Framingham, Mass.-based office supply chain. Staples representative Shannon Lapierre last week described the project as "a single assignment" being created specifically for the New England market. She would not elaborate.
Cliff Freeman in New York, lead broadcast shop for the retailer since 1994, has been rumored to be in trouble on the account.
Lapierre dismissed such speculation. "We are very happy with Cliff Freeman," she said. Agency officials declined comment. An industry source said Staples was looking to "take the Coke approach," a reference to Coca-Cola's decision several years ago to farm out projects to individual shops rather than being wedded to any one.
Staples last year tapped a division of Boston-based Arnold for direct marketing chores. Pro Media, Natick, Mass., handles media duties.
The client had 1998 media expenditures of $79.8 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Staples, which operates more than 900 stores in the U.S., Canada and Europe, last week announced several Internet-related initiatives, including a joint marketing agreement with Register.com to help small-business customers access the Web.
Staples also invested in Point.com, a leading Web retailer of wireless phones, and outlined details for an affiliate program that would pay a commission to any Web site owner who agreed to place a link to Staples.com on their site. Affiliates would earn cash or credit redeemable at its stores or Web site.
Lapierre said broadcast advertising to promote Staple's Web site is under consideration but that the project currently in review is not related to that. -with Kathleen Sampe