Hill’s Argyilan Heads to Arnold

BOSTON Two months after being named Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos’ general manager, Kristi Argyilan has left the Interpublic Group agency here for crosstown rival Arnold.

Argyilan becomes executive vice president of media strategy, a new position at the Havas-owned shop, reporting to president and COO Fran Kelly.

“This is a big step forward for Arnold,” Kelly said, in a statement. “Strong all-channel media planning is what our clients are looking for.”

She starts at Arnold on Feb. 21 and will work across all agency clients, coordinating efforts with Havas media sibling MPG. Arnold’s major accounts include Ocean Spray, RadioShack, Royal Caribbean, Tyson Foods and Vonage. She will also work on new business.

“It’s such an interesting position in an agency I’ve always admired,” Argyilan said. Her main objective will be to evaluate client approaches to media (and communications overall) and suggest changes in the mix where necessary, she said.

Hill, Holliday CEO Mike Sheehan praised Argyilan as “a real asset to the agency. We wish her well.”

Argyilan joined Hill, Holliday in 2001 from Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. She served as evp of its media group before being named to the vacant general manager’s slot [Adweek Online, Dec. 5]. Baba Shetty, evp and a former Fallon executive who joined Hill, Holliday as the year began [Adweek Online, Jan. 9], assumed oversight of media operations.

Her departure came as a surprise, said sources, who interpreted her December promotion as a sign Argyilan would play a key role in Hill, Holliday’s future.

Volatility has been the watchword in Hill, Holliday’s executive suite, with numerous high-level comings and goings in recent months.

Most recently, Brian Carty, the agency’s New York president and national new-business director, left a month ago.

Both Carty and the agency said he resigned; sources said the shop had grown increasingly disenchanted with its poor new-business performance of late. Despite closing out 2005 by adding the $60 million Liberty Mutual account, the agency came up short in pitches for Ameriprise, Lipitor, SunTrust, L.L. Bean and Harris Direct, worth approximately $200 million combined.

Chairman Jack Connors, 63, who co-founded the agency in 1968, said he would retire at year’s end.

Even before Argyilan headed for Arnold, several sources said they expected more Hill, Holliday executives to leave before Connors’ exit, either of their own accord or otherwise.

A Hill, Holliday representative has asserted that the agency’s two most senior day-to-day managers—CEO Sheehan and Boston president Karen Kaplan—are aboard for the long haul.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with Argyilan’s comments and additional details.