Arnell to Become Brand Consultancy: As Focus Changes, the Agency Looks for New Name, Alliances Abroad

By Matt Surman

NEW YORK–The Arnell Group plans to shift its focus, de-emphasizing its advertising work and highlighting its brand consulting skills, executives at the shop said.

The agency’s talents lie in its branding, development and custodial abilities, said Peter Arnell, chairman of the New York shop. As such, the agency expects to change its name in the fall. Possible new monikers include Arnell Brand Consultants and Arnell Group Brand Consultants.

As part of the changes, the agency is promoting Bruno Asselin to president. Asselin has extensive experience on the client side, including a stint at Nespresso, the espresso division of Nestle. He started at the agency in 1992, handling strategic planning and marketing, after working on Nespresso with the agency’s previous incarnation, Arnell/Bickford Associates. ‘We’re taking someone who’s spent his life in brands and putting him in charge,’ Arnell said about the promotion.

Asselin said: ‘We’re packaging (our talents) to the market. We have the experience, as we’ve proved with many clients, to help new clients.’

In an attempt to utilize its brand-building expertise and attract more international clients, the 18-year-old agency–which claims capitalized billings of $190 million–is seeking alliances with foreign shops. Arnell has spoken with agencies in Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom about such partnerships. ‘The key is to open up to networks and alliances with (institutions) that before might have been competitors,’ explained Arnell.

Although Arnell would not comment on specific agencies, sources said Seoul, Korea-based Cheil Communications, the in-house agency of Samsung, was one of those with which Arnell had spoken. Arnell said he has not spoken to any U.S. shops.

While the agency’s future focus will be on branding, advertising will remain a component and will be ‘only one of many services we can bring to the client,’ according to Arnell.

‘I will always respect advertising as a strong and viable method of communication,’ he said, ‘but I’ve realized that helping companies focus their vision is our strength.’

New hires are also expected. ‘We need a lot of strategic people now,’ Arnell said.

With Asselin’s promotion, Dane Solomon, senior vice president, director, will take on some strategic planning and business development duties.

The Arnell Group is known for its work for former client DKNY as well as campaigns for Samsung, Hanes hosiery and Fila for women. Clients will be briefed about the changes at the agency this week, said Arnell.

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