Perhaps you've been wondering what Peter Arnell has been up to since the launch of his redesigned packages for Tropicana and Pepsi, the latter mostly successful, the former decidedly not. Perhaps you've been asking yourself, "Who is this fellow who can land mega-accounts by talking about 'the dynamic of perimeter oscillations' and 'invitational expressions'? What are his secrets and how can I learn them?"
Well, wonder and ask no longer. Newsweek got up close and personal with the guy they call "mad man" and "brand genius"; the guy whose firm, Arnell Group, has done "high-profile work" for Samsung, Banana Republic, McDonald's, DKNY, Home Depot, and Pfizer; the guy whose "glass-wrapped office" (7 World Trade Center) contains white-leather couches and a 105-inch flat-panel screen and affords "amazing views of Manhattan and the harbor."
It turns out—and I know you'll be surprised to hear it—that Mr. Arnell exhibits, nay cultivates, a certain eccentricity. Among the background details uncovered by reporter Daniel Lyons:
- Arnell once lost more than 250 pounds in 30 months, dropping from 407 to 152 by eating the same food every day: carrots, cucumber slices and steamed cauliflower, dipped in mustard and sesame seeds. These days he consumes about 20 oranges a day, "which turn his hands yellow."
- His maternal grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, was a fishmonger in the Fulton Fish Market. Arnell's father changed the family surname from Abramovitz.
- After graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School, in 1976, Arnell talked himself into an internship with the architect Michael Graves. He never attended college.
- Arnell owns 1,600 pairs of eyeglasses.
- "Two former business associates, who requested anonymity to avoid damaging their relationship with Arnell, say Arnell carried a handgun in an ankle holster."
- He's friends with Martha Stewart (and has appeared on her TV show, not mentioned in the article).
- Arnell is overseeing development of the Peapod, a tiny battery-powered car for Chrysler. He has "even put his initials—as in Peter Eric Arnell—into the name." The car has no air conditioning and will sell for about $12,500. Arnell wants to call its buyers "peaple."
And then there's this:
But please, just read the whole article, and also the comments, which include this recollection: "Peter Arnell told my daughter-in-law that he was going to break up her marriage when she went to work for him many years ago. And he did. She still works for him."
But wait, there's more! Advertising Age reported April 2 that sales of the Tropicana Pure Premium line "plummeted 20% between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, costing the brand tens of millions of dollars." The new packaging was recalled Feb. 23, after just two months on the market.
From the Ad Age article:
One man's mishegoss, another man's schadenfreude.
*According to reporter Lyons, "freaking" was not the precise word that Arnell used.