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A bit of nostalgia to ink the Thomas deal

Chris Morris

When Full Contact’s Marty Donohue needed some help to make one of his ad agency’s biggest pitches of the year, he turned to a longtime family friend.

That buddy just happened to be in a box, in the basement of Donohue’s Walpole home.

Donohue pulled out Thomas the Tank Engine, the blue wooden train with that cheery human face. He was about to head to New York, to vie for the Thomas ad business against some much bigger firms.

“When I found out that we had the opportunity to pitch it, not only was I excited, my whole family was excited,” Donohue said.


The move paid off. Donohue came back from the pitch meeting in February feeling good about his firm’s prospects. A few weeks later, he learned his 34-person ad agency — a Boston firm Donohue owns with Timothy Foley — had won the Thomas business, becoming the agency of record for the brand.

Filming for the TV ads is scheduled to start next week in Vancouver, with post-production work planned at Peel & Eat in Boston.

Donohue’s firm has worked with children’s brands before, among them Safety 1st, Stride Rite, and Tommee Tippee.

“Even though we didn’t have the size of one of these giant New York agencies, we probably had more experience in the ‘mom-and-kids’ space than some of these bigger guys,” Donohue said.

It also helped that Donohue already had a good relationship with Vinnie D’Alleva, now a senior vice president at Fisher Price. Full Contact previously worked with him on the Safety 1st and Tommee Tippee brands.

For Donohue, the pitch for Thomas wasn’t just business. It was personal. His two sons and his daughter grew up with Thomas. They were young children in the 1990s, just as the British character was becoming popular in the United States. They’re grown now.


But he said they would be crushed if he threw away that box in the basement — the one packed with tracks and trains from Thomas’s world, tucked away for a future generation of Donohues.

Now that Full Contact has landed its big global client, it’s a safe bet that box won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. — JON CHESTO

‘New Sheriffs’ trio awaits more from Hillary Clinton

The women dubbed the New Sheriffs of Wall Street aren’t prepared to deputize presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, at least not yet.

Former top financial regulators Sheila Bair and Mary Schapiro, along with Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, said Clinton hasn’t clearly outlined the financial regulatory policies she would pursue to protect American consumers and the economy.

Bair, former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said she fears that Clinton will rely on the same economic team as President Obama, which included many veterans of her husband’s administration.

“I worry about it. . . . They’re very Wall Street-friendly,” said the usually blunt Bair, who headed the FDIC during the financial crisis.

The trio spoke at Harvard University Monday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Time magazine cover heralding the women’s efforts to police the financial sector.

Schapiro, who headed the Securities and Exchange Commission, said she’ll be watching how forceful Clinton is about protecting investors and about the need for greater transparency from companies.

Warren, who has been encouraged to run against Clinton for the Democratic nomination, said that most Americans believe the financial sector could use more regulation. Clinton should ensure that the reforms put in place post-financial crisis aren’t watered down.


“She has a real opportunity here,” Warren said. “The key is we’re moving forward, we’re not going back.” — DEIRDRE FERNANDES

Seth Klarman speaks out on global violence

When Seth Klarman, CEO of Baupost Group in Boston, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, speaks publicly, most listeners probably hope to pick up investment tips. But the nearly 800 people at last week’s annual New England benefit dinner for Facing History and Ourselves got to hear him rail against public apathy in the face of world violence.

Referencing #BringBackOurGirls, which was ubiquitous on Twitter after last year’s kidnapping of several hundred Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamic militants, Klarman had this to say:

“A hashtag turns out to be a pathetic excuse for inaction.”

And he was critical of terms like “senseless violence” and “tragedy,” saying they minimize the atrocity of genocidal acts.

“I ask you: Were the Nazis guilty of ‘senseless violence’ against Jews, gypsies, and others?” said Klarman, who cochairs Facing History’s board of trustees.

The Brookline nonprofit’s mission — fighting racism and prejudice — dovetails with Klarman’s philanthropic work, which includes supporting Jewish and Israeli causes.

Klarman, 57, who is back at work after a cardiac bypass in March, also introduced a surprise guest, whom he called “my friend, our new governor, Charlie Baker.”

In his time at the podium, Baker spoke without notes for about 10 minutes — and confirmed to the Globe later that he hadn’t been reading from a prepared speech.


“When I don’t have a script, I talk for a shorter time — and that’s what everyone really wants,” he joked.

The biggest laugh of the night came from another speaker, 17-year-old Fenway High School junior Edwin Bratton, whose first words at the mike, as he watched Baker walk off the stage, were: “He looks taller in person!” — SACHA PFEIFFER

Dunkin’ leadership transition under way

John Costello, the president of global marketing at Dunkin’ Brands Group, certainly isn’t leaving because his services are no longer wanted. The company announced Costello’s retirement – he’s 67 – last week, more than a year before it takes effect.

And chief executive Nigel Travis tossed plenty of praise Costello’s way during a conference call with analysts.

Costello, whose favorite Dunkin’ Donuts treat is the croissant doughnut, didn’t get to coast during the call: He had to update analysts on ventures such as K-Cup sales and an ongoing West Coast expansion.

Just because Costello’s retirement is a ways off doesn’t mean big changes aren’t already under way at the mother ship in Canton. Costello kept his title. But as of May 1, he shifted into a new strategic role, largely to focus on the company’s international expansion efforts. Two executives who once reported to Costello, Scott Hudler and Chris Fuqua, will share Costello’s former responsibilities.

Costello has 27,100 reasons to stick around: That’s how many Dunkin’ shares will vest for him if he stays until July 31, 2016, as part of a retention award given to him last year.


Based on the current Dunkin’ stock price, Costello’s award could be worth at least $1.4 million.

You can buy a lot of cronuts with that kind of windfall. — JON CHESTO

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail Bold Types at boldtypes@globe.com.

 Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this Bold Types contained an incorrect reference to a Boston ad agency. The agency’s name is Full Contact.