Century 21 Moves Out

Century 21 last week fired Arnold Communications and gave its estimated $40 million account to Lowe & Partners/SMS in New York.
Steve Savino, who joined the Parsippany, N.J.-based client in June as senior vice president of marketing, said he was looking to Lowe to develop a campaign for next spring that showed “out-of-the-box thinking.”
“If an ad merely informs consumers, it’s not good enough. [Advertising] has to capture their imaginations,” he said.
Savino, who worked with Lowe for three years while employed by spirits distributor Heublein, Farmington, Conn., pointed to the agency’s “turnaround” campaigns for Mercedes and Sprite as reasons for the decision.
Boston-based Arnold, which landed the account last fall, broke its first campaign for Century 21 in January. “More power to you” was the tagline on commercials that portrayed happy families moving into new homes and sought to reinforce the company’s position as the market leader.
Arnold executives said privately they did not believe Savino gave the shop enough of a chance to prove itself. “We had only one meeting with the guy and we’re gone,” said one executive.
Time was not a “luxury” Savino felt he had, so he did not conduct a formal review or ask Arnold to present new ideas. Instead, Savino said he turned to Lowe to capitalize on an opportunity to create ads in an industry not known for its memorable advertising.
“We want ads that get talked about and energize our system,” he said, adding that “out of the box” thinking would be applied not just to advertising, but also to brand publicity, events and possibly sponsorships, a new area for Century 21. Arnold Public Relations in Boston continues as the company’s agency of record, he said.