Arnold Lays Off at Least 40 Staffers

BOSTON–Arnold on Wednesday instituted an across-the-board layoff in its headquarters office here, agency executives confirmed.

Forty employees–roughly 7-9 percent of the Boston staff–from “all levels, all departments” will be let go from the Havas-owned agency “in order for us to stay healthy in the current economy,” said Arnold representative Rebecca Sullivan. One source, speaking on terms of anonymity, said Arnold will axe as many as 75 employees, but Sullivan and agency president Fran Kelly both insisted that figure was exaggerated. No other Arnold offices are affected by the cuts, they said.

Separately, Arnold has won two pieces of business in reviews, scoring HealthNow/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York in its McLean, Va., office and real-estate concern Royal Lapage in its Toronto outpost. The accounts are estimated to be worth a combined $12-15 million. Kelly said Arnold has of late emphasized winning accounts “network wide,” regardless of the location of the office leading the pitch, and insisted that recent wins prove that the agency’s new-business machine remains in high gear despite a recent slump in Boston. That office is pursuing Dunlop Tire’s consolidated North American and European account, while the San Francisco outpost is pitching Cisco Systems.

The layoffs were prompted at least in part by the recent decision by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s decision to eliminate media spending on its tobacco control initiative, Kelly said. A coalition of public health groups, including the American Cancer Society, today filed suit in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts asking the court to order Gov. Jane Swift to immediately restore $22 million in funds for anti-smoking programs. Arnold’s “Make smoking history” tobacco control campaign was halted due to the cutbacks [Adweek, Feb.11].

Another contributing factor to the layoffs, according to sources, was the loss of some interactive chores Arnold had handled for other clients, though agency executives said that was not the case.

Arnold let go approximately 60-75 staffers nationwide last year through layoffs and the closing of its Cipriani Kremer Design unit.