Emerson to Join Toth




Arnold Exec to Redirect Brand Specialist
BOSTON–When Michael Toth and Dick Emerson first met a year ago, they discussed the possibility of Arnold Communications acquiring Toth Brand Imaging.
The buyout never happened, but the pair kept in touch and found they shared similar ideas about building client brands–and growing entrepreneurial agencies. Now, the two are preparing to join forces.
Emerson, 49, will leave Boston-based Arnold next month to become chief operating officer of Toth’s shop in Concord, Mass. He will serve as No. 2 to Toth, who continues as president, chief executive officer and executive creative director.
Emerson, who receives an undisclosed minority stake in the $40 million agency, said he plans to “take the core strategy in brand building and enhance that offering to [include] a full plate of services.”
Toth said he has a vision for what his agency can be: a creatively driven agency that offers interactive, promotion and media services. Emerson’s 25 years of advertising know-how can get him there, Toth said.
Emerson joined Arnold in 1991 after the shop bought Emerson Lane Fortuna. He most recently served as chief operating officer, overseeing integrated marketing services and running The Hartford account.
Emerson and Arnold chairman Ed Eskandarian are in the process of deciding how his role will be filled. A managing partner at the unit of Snyder Communications in Bethesda, Md., Emerson has been cashed out to some extent but plans on retaining some Snyder shares as “an interested investor,” he said. Eskandarian could not be reached by press time.
At Toth, Dianne des Roches previously served as chief operating officer, leaving the shop after one year in March for a consulting career. Emerson will take over for her in an “expanded role,” Toth said.
With 50 employees in its New York and Concord offices, Toth has a reputation well beyond its size, working on national ad assignments for Coach, Mossimo, Esprit, Unionbay, Men’s Health and others.
The agency was rocked in 1998, however, by the defection of longtime client Tommy Hilfiger. That loss contributed to a 32 percent decrease in annual billings, resulted in a round of staff layoffs and fueled tensions between Toth and des Roches.
Observers have said Toth was in need of partner with a keen business sense, and those who know Emerson say he may be just the right fit.
“Wherever Dick goes he’s going to do great things,” said Emerson’s former partner Keith Lane, who now owns Lane Advertising in Salem, Mass. “Dick is without question the best manager of business and people I’ve ever worked with.”