Arnold Doubles Billings in Havas Reorganization

Arnold last week nearly doubled its worldwide network billings to roughly $6 billion, adding relationship marketing agency Brann Worldwide and several other shops in a reorganization by parent Havas Advertising. It is not certain, however, if bulking up will enable Arnold to become a more significant player on the global stage.

Adding size and skill should help in the long term, but in light of the unstable economy and shrinking client budgets, broad growth for Arnold may remain a slow, painful process, industry analysts said.

“They should be positioned better for when the economy turns around,” said consultant Bill Montbleau of Montbleau Associates in Burlington, Mass. “But for right now, it’s impossible to say.”

Brann, Wilton, Conn., was shifted to Arnold following Havas’ decision to dismantle its 70-shop Diversified Agencies Group in an effort to save $120 million over two years. Most DAG holdings have been reassigned to Havas’ other networks: Arnold in Boston, Euro RSCG of New York and Media Planning, based in Barcelona, Spain.

Arnold’s lead office works for Fidelity Investments and Citizens Bank; Brann works for FleetBoston Financial. These potential conflicts will be avoided because the shops’ operations remain largely separate, said Arnold chairman and CEO Ed Eskandarian.

Brann, with about $1 billion in billings and 5,000 employees, was by far the largest DAG agency. Arnold, which is the smallest Havas network, also added seven other agencies, mainly public relations, sales promotion and marketing companies in the U.S., U.K. and France. The specialization of those shops should provide a boost to Arnold. Clients that slash media budgets in tough times will often resort to direct marketing, public relations and related disciplines, Montbleau said.

Paris-based Havas, the No. 5 holding company, last week reported revenue of about $1.4 billion for the first nine months of 2001, up 3 percent compared with the same period a year ago.