Snyder's Latest Buy Boosts Healthcare Profile

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Snyder Communications' recent acquisition of Arnold Communications for $120 million in Snyder stock brings the rapidly growing marketing company the creative talent it was seeking.

"We didn't have a creative agency," said Daniel M. Snyder, chairman and CEO of Snyder, Bethesda, MD. "We had direct with Blau [Marketing], but the creative expertise is what Arnold is giving us."

A creative agency may have been one of the few things Snyder was missing, with Arnold, Boston, marking Snyder's 14th acquisition since January 1997. In the past 15 months, Snyder has acquired seven marketing agencies specializing in services ranging from product sampling to direct marketing and seven agencies specializing in medical and pharmaceutical-related marketing, an area on which Snyder is placing particular emphasis.

Snyder expects Arnold to strengthen its pharmaceutical marketing capabilities and to help with direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising.

"They have a lot of consumer experience," Snyder said. "Now we will be able to do creative consulting direct to consumer."

Arnold does not have pharmaceutical advertising experience, but welcomes the challenge, said Ed Eskandarian, Arnold chairman and CEO.

"We believe our direct and advertising work can complement their efforts in the way of in-store displays, wall boards and one-on-one advertising," Eskandarian said. "As I've said to our clients, we hadn't done any car advertising before we started with Volkswagen. Sometimes it's better to come into something with a clear, fresh look at things."

Arnold gained attention for its "Drivers Wanted" campaign for Volkswagen, particularly for the new Beetle. It views its alliance with Snyder as a means for further expansion.

"We valued our independence. But when we spoke to them, there seemed to be a perfect fit between the types of things we were looking to do and the types of things they were looking to do," Eskandarian said. "Obviously, they made us an offer we couldn't refuse, but more importantly, they plan to help us expand nationally and internationally, which is something we would have difficulty doing on our own."

In addition to general advertising, Arnold offers direct marketing through its Arnold Direct division, new media services through its Arnold Interactive division and database management through its Arnold Information Technology division. The direct division lists Bell Atlantic, The Hartford and Volkswagen as major clients.

Arnold, which also has offices in Richmond, VA, and Washington, is looking to expand to the West Coast, Snyder said. Expansion into Europe also is planned.

Both agencies see their client bases as highly compatible.

"There is an opportunity for us to have synergy with the businesses they are in because we don't compete and conflict. We see opportunities for growth from our business to theirs and from their business to ours," Eskandarian said.

Snyder also noted that some of the data capabilities of Blau Marketing, which was acquired by Snyder last winter, could benefit Arnold's clients.

The Arnold Communications' management team will remain in place, and there will be no name change, Snyder said.

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