Arnold Taps D’Arcy’s Bud Boys

Mike Smith and Dave Swaine, the team behind the first incarnation of Budweiser’s “Frogs” spots, have joined Arnold’s St. Louis office. The move is the latest effort by the Havas network to upgrade its creative product in North America.

Arnold has made top-level creative changes in almost all of its major offices during the past three months. The goal is to create a “nimble, highly creative network” of agencies with similar philosophies, according to Ron Lawner, Arnold’s chief creative officer.

Smith and Swaine join as vice presidents and associate creative directors, new positions at the shop, where they become the second tier of creative management under CD Mark Ray. Their longtime employer, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in St. Louis, closed in March after years of client losses.

The team created the Budweiser frogs in 1994 and won a silver Lion at Cannes for their efforts. The duo’s first assignment for Arnold: developing ads to launch Jack Daniel’s Original Hard Cola, from Jack Daniel’s and Miller Brewing.

Separately last week, CDs Bruce Gifford and Fred Burgos were named to manage creative at Arnold’s office in McLean, Va., following the resignation of executive vp, chief creative officer Matt Smith. Smith leaves July 1 to open his own shop in Washington, D.C. Gifford and Burgos transferred from Arnold’s Boston headquarters last year.

Stu Cooperrider, who oversaw award-winning efforts for the Massachusetts Office of Public Health Tobacco Control Program, moved to Arnold’s San Francisco office in February; former Leo Burnett executives Tim Kavander and Bill Newbery joined Arnold, Toronto, as svps/co-CDs two weeks ago. Staying put with Arnold McGrath, New York, is Rochelle Klein as chief creative.

With those CDs in place, Arnold believes it now has the right mix of seasoned talent in its domestic offices to deliver improved creative product and make the network more competitive, said Lawner. “We don’t want a bunch of outlying offices” with different creative approaches, he said. Though he said he does not anticipate more major changes in the near term, Lawner described the quest for the right executive mix as “a process … ongoing.”

Smith and Swaine are preparing ads for Hard Cola for July, when the beverage becomes available in bars and restaurants. The “malternative” product, which Brown-Forman, parent of Jack Daniel’s, and Miller hope will be a year-round beverage, hits stores in September. Spending is still being worked out, a Miller representative said. The brewer’s partnerships with other liquor companies have resulted in outlays of approximately $40-$50 million.

The desire of Arnold’s top management to use seasoned creative managers to retain and attract national accounts is a driving force behind the CD shifts. The agency saw network billings dip 3 percent to $3.4 billion in 2001.