Bittersweet Triumph at Hatch

BOSTON Just two weeks after being dismissed by 10-year showcase client Volkswagen of America, Arnold and VW teamed to win best of show honors last night at the 45th annual Francis W. Hatch Awards honoring creative excellence in New England advertising.

The winning campaign for the new VW Jetta, which broke in March, used the line “It’s all grown up. Sort of.”

This marked the fourth time Boston-based Arnold, a unit of Havas, and VW topped the region’s most prestigious awards show.

The German automaker in December will move its $400 million U.S. and Canadian business to MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami. CP+B will add the business without a review, following VW’s hire of former BMW Mini Cooper marketing chief Kerri Martin as director of brand innovation. (The Mini, now in review, is a former CP+B client.)

Arnold has said layoffs are forthcoming as the relationship winds down, and sources predict at least 75-100 employees will be let go.

Hatch ’05 also marked Arnold’s fourth consecutive best of show triumph. It won for the American Legacy Foundation last year and in 2002, and topped the competition with a VW campaign called “Squares” in 2003.

“Certainly [the win is] bittersweet because VW was so much a part of the agency,” said Ron Lawner, chief creative officer at Arnold. “But I think [the awards] speak very loudly about how modern and integrated this agency really is. We won for a body of fully integrated campaigns and to be slapped for not thinking outside the box when we in fact live outside the box [is frustrating.]”

Overall, 285 gold, silver, bronze and merit awards were presented last night at Avalon in Boston. The show is produced by the Ad Club of Boston.

In addition to the best of show, Arnold took home the most total awards with 103, including five gold bowls.

Independent Fort Franklin here nabbed seven gold bowls, tops for the night.

The Barbarian Group, an independent i-shop here, won two gold bowls. Interpublic Group’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., and independent MMB in Boston each won single gold prizes.

A pair of notable players and past Hatch best of show winners, IPG’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Modernista!, both in Boston, failed to win a single gold.