Staples Seeks Direct Assistance

The direct marketing units of Arnold Communications and Ingalls Advertising are competing for an assignment from Staples.
Headquartered in Westborough, Mass., the chain of office supply superstores is in the final stages of a review for a direct marketing project formerly handled in-house, industry sources said last week. One source said a decision is imminent and may be announced as soon as this week.
Budget levels for the assignment, which includes a mix of consumer and business direct marketing chores, could not be determined by press time. However, sources said billings are in excess of $5 million–and perhaps as high as $10 million. The search is being spearheaded by Jean Lewis, who recently was promoted to senior vice president of marketing at Staples. Lewis was advanced to the top marketing post following the resignation earlier this year of Todd Krasnow, who had held the job since Staples opened its first store in Boston 11 years ago.
Staples approached other direct marketing specialists, including Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, before settling on Arnold Direct and Ingalls One to One Marketing, sources said. Bronner Slosberg, the Boston-based direct marketing firm that claims more than $800 million in total billings, was deemed too large for the assignment, sources said.
Arnold Direct managing partner Shari Williams would neither confirm nor deny that her shop was involved in a pitch last week. Diana Scott, managing director of Ingalls One to One Marketing, also declined comment.
Lead creative agency on the Staples account is Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York. That shop is not involved in the current review. Media buying and planning chores are with Pro Media in Natick, Mass.
None of the business currently handled by Cliff Freeman or Pro Media is included in the direct marketing review, sources said.