Leonard On Board at Arnold

Fine-tuning Arnold’s anti-smoking initiatives will be the pri mary mission of Christine Leonard, who recently joined the Boston agency as vp/group planning director.

Leonard reports to Graceann Bennett, who joined Arnold in August as evp/director of account planning, filling a post long vacant at the region’s largest ad agency.

Leonard will oversee planning for the Boston shop’s anti-smoking initiatives for the American Legacy Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s To bacco Control Program, which rank among the shop’s signature accounts.

“There’s a lot of good opportunity, creatively and strategically, with both of these accounts,” she said.

A major goal for the department will be to increase awareness of the agency’s efforts to curb tobacco addiction. “People think of Volkswagen when they think of Arnold,” Bennett said. “We want more heightened awareness for the anti-smoking initiatives.”

Both Leonard and Bennett had previously worked together in planning positions at Mullen in Wenham, Mass. The latter was especially impressed with Leonard’s work after Leonard left Mullen three years ago to pursue a freelance career. Among her freelance projects were the S&H Greenpoints and Drinks.com accounts with Mullen. Bennett said she was im pressed with Leonard’s leadership, solid planning background and understanding of complex issues.

“I became firmly convinced that if I was going to go back [to agency life], this was the perfect fit,” Leonard said. Together, she and Bennett oversee the Boston office’s 20-member planning group, along with about a dozen staffers in the agency’s offices in McLean, Va., St. Louis and San Francisco.

For American Legacy’s national “Truth” campaign, worth more than $100 million annually to Arnold, the agency recently broke TV spots warning teenagers of the hazardous chemicals in cigarette smoke. The agency this summer retained the five-year, $8-14 million account for the MDPH in a review against Allen & Gerritsen, Watertown, Mass., and Modernista!, Boston.