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Fallon Makes Some ‘Adjustments’

It’s a rather vague hed, we know, but then again, Fallon’s always been rather cryptic when it comes to confirming tips about the comings and goings of its staff (unless it’s a major promotion announce like Mike Buchner, of course). Anyhow, we’ve been receiving tips sporadically since the beginning of the month regarding layoffs at the agency’s Minneapolis HQ, with reasons including Fallon being overstaffed.

While that remains unfounded for now, we did receive this statement from the agency, which reads, “Fallon continues to grow and has not lost any accounts this year.  We are, however, making adjustments to our team composition in response to our clients’ changing needs.  This includes some new hires and some departures.” Yep, about as specific as you can get, but we’re just left to wonder had Fallon won Sears, how this “adjustment” might’ve been affected. We were unable to pry numbers or departments affected, but we’ll let you know if that changes.


Fallon Has a New CEO

It took 27 years but Mike Buchner (pictured) has finally made it to the mountaintop, as the Fallon veteran has been appointed to the chief executive officer post at the Minneapolis agency. Buchner most recently served as COO and now replaces Chris Foster, who shifted titles within the Publicis fold and now serves as chairman/regional CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Asia Pacific.

The “Lovemarks” guru himself, Kevin Roberts, aka the chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Group, says  Buchner “…is an outstanding communications professional who after several senior management roles at Fallon, segues naturally into the lead. Mike has been a pivotal player in the agency’s ‘A-list’ position and he will provide a formidable mix of stability, growth, and vision.”

Buchner joined Fallon right out of college back in ’84, moving from director of account management to GM to eventually COO. Guess loyalty pays off.

Fishburne’s First Outing for Cadillac: ‘Red Blooded Luxury’

In winning GM’s Cadillac account from BBH New York after only six months, Fallon needed some help to meet the industry’s high expectations. They brought veteran Bruce Bildsten over to lead the account, and employed the vocal talents of Laurence Fishburne (aka Cowboy Curtis aka Morpheus aka that pornstar’s dad) for this first round of ads from the agency.

It seems the trend of getting celebrities to do voiceover work for car commercials isn’t ending any time soon. In the past year we’ve had Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall get all phallic over Dodge Chargers and seen Tim Allen claim Chevrolet in the name of “America, Man.” We’re going to give Cadillac the victory in the battle of the voiceover heavyweights because, let’s face it, Fishburne could beat the shit out of either of those dudes if push came to shove.

Really, we applaud Cadillac for their “Red Blooded Luxury” campaign, because people don’t buy fancy cars because they make sense financially (nudge, nudge, Acura). They buy luxury cars to look cool and rich, flexing their dollars for all drivers to see. “Red Blooded Luxury” uses Fishburne’s booming voice and shots seemingly ripped from the pages of Vogue to show that Detroit’s recovering from the depths of economic ruin, and that “American made” and “chic” can be used interchangeably once more.

One more spot after the jump.

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Bruce Bildsten Returning to Fallon to Lead Cadillac


Bruce Bildsten has rejoined Fallon, the agency where he spent twenty years before leaving to start up his own shop, Brew, in 2005 with Fallon connection planner Michelle Fitzgerald.

Bildsten will take creative lead on Fallon’s recently acquired Cadillac account. During his initial tenure at the agency, the Emmy-winning Bildsten served as ECD and led the work on “BMW Films,” which won the first ever Titanium Lion for innovation at Cannes.

Fallon CCO Darren Spiller, says in a statement, “Bruce is a true craftsman with impeccable creative standards and a body of work that anyone would be proud to own. Additionally, his auto experience and passion for cars is obviously going to be a huge asset to both Fallon and Cadillac going forward. I’m anxious to begin working with him.”

Spiller will have to wait just a bit, though, as Bildsten isn’t expected to take his new post at Fallon until the beginning of October.

More: “Minneapolis Egotist Serves Up Twin Cities Beat Report

Fallon Drives Away with Cadillac


Looks like General Motors’ new VP of U.S. marketing Joel Ewanick is shaking things up yet again as Adweek reports that GM has shifted its $250-270 million (depending on who you read) Cadillac account from BBH New York to Fallon after just six months.

It appears that BBH NY CEO Greg Andersen was somewhat shocked by the whole turn of events, issuing a statement this morning saying, “We were extremely surprised to learn via the press yesterday that Cadillac has decided to move its advertising business elsewhere. That aside, we’re pleased to have been a part of helping turn Cadillac sales around over the last several months. Incredibly strong sales like we’ve seen recently are exactly why we love doing what we do. We wish this iconic American brand the best and look forward to future partnerships in this dynamic category.”

More: “The Post-Modernista! Cadillac Era Begins

Dean Hanson Leaves Fallon After 28 Years


In this day and age, two years seems like an eternity in the ad/media world in terms of tenure, but art director Dean Hanson held it down at Fallon for 28 years and, alas, now he’s leaving.

A tipster named “David” spouts this accusation: “New CCO Darren Spiller and his Australian posse have maden Fallon unrecognizable to the heroes who built the place. Dean will be fine but the fact that he walked out on his own is telling.”

While we won’t go so far as to back his allegations and typos, Fallon to their credit has sent us a statement regarding Hanson’s departure that basically cements the matter. Here goes:

“Dean Hanson is an exceptional talent who has spent the better part of the past 28 years creating some of the world’s most memorable and award-winning advertising. He’s done a lot to help build the Fallon brand over his career and we wish him the best of luck in whatever endeavor he might pursue in the future.”

We’re still awaiting word on why Hanson left and where he’s going. Stay tuned.

More: “Bust Out the Streamers; It’s Pat Fallon Day

Pat Fallon Gets Advertising Hall of Fame Nod



In a congratulatory Tweet this morning, @wearefallon informed us that their demi-god Pat Fallon will be added to the Advertising Hall of Fame, which is curated by the American Advertising Federation.

Fallon is known throughout the industry as a game changer. His work and agency put Minneapolis on the map &#151 helping make it the creative hub it is today. The music scene there doesn’t hurt either, but what is otherwise an arctic tundra could only be attractive to the egos of advertising by good work and better clients &#151 many of which called Fallon home.

These days Fallon spends more time out of the office than in, we hear. He’s known to dislike talking about business outside the shop, and does some hunting here and there. He’ll receive the award in March.

For some background on his work and agency, click here.

More:That Old Lady Fallon Has Got Her Groove Back

Fallon’s Bad Day


Update: We hear Mike Gibbs, long time creative and friend of Pat Fallon was also laid off.

Three of the top account people at Fallon Minneapolis unexpectedly resigned yesterday, a source tells AgencySpy. They include Alex Leikikh, Julie Mcbride and Kara Peterson &#151 personnel who handled some of Fallon’s top clients.

And on top of the resignations we’re also told there have been layoffs yesterday and today.

But what’s most interesting about the story is what the resignations might mean for Fallon. Once a creative centerpiece for the Saatchi network the agency is now looking like it’s headed to a bland future. Keep in mind all the packaged goods work Saatchi does &#151 and recall that General Mills is headquartered in Edina &#151 minutes from Fallon’s downtown Minneapolis spot.

As we stated, Leikikh, McBride and Peterson’s departures were unexpected. But it’s possible that they were looking into Fallon’s future and seeing the agency’s perception as a creativity leader taking a back seat to financial viability. Can you blame them?

These three ran some of the agency’s key accounts and new business wins, including Holiday Inn, Purina and Boston Market.

What this could mean is that the shop will seek fewer brave clients. They’ll hire folks who mimic that goal. They’ll make money. Well, once those layoffs are over.

An agency representative did not respond by the time this story was published.

More:TBWA/Chiat/Day LA Elevates Rob Schwartz, Hires Fallon’s Al Kelly

Breaking: Fallon Lays off 9% of Staff


A representative at Minneapolis based Fallon has confirmed that 18 members of the agency’s 200 person staff have been notified that they no longer have jobs.

In a statement, the agency said, “Even with recent new business success, we found it necessary to decrease staff by 18 people due to budget pullbacks in our existing client base.”

Last week, Fallon ECD Al Kelly departed from the shop, and is possibly heading (we hear) to TBWA. Sources say he’s also shopping W&K, Goodby and all the usual suspects. There’s no word on whether Kelly jumped ship, but this news would sort of hint at that. Advertising is the opposite of sailing.

In the beginning of the year, Fallon announced three bits of good news that weren’t really such good news at all. Recall that the agency let you all know about their AORship for Boston Market and that they added Purina’s Alpo and Nestle’s beverage line to their roster in January and February consecutively. Well two of those, we’re told, actually went down months before in mid-late 2008. Meaning: the agency stored up the news, saving it for the first of the year. PR is like sometimes like being a chipmunk.

Meanwhile, Darren Spiller of Publicis Mojo Melbourne is coming in for Kelly. We’ll have to see what happens there. We’re hearing the agency actually has something in its pocket for later this quarter. Cutbacks are normal these days kids; Fallon may be going down, but not without a fight (it seems).

More:Fallon Minn.’s 99 Problems &#151 Kelly, Wiggins Depart; Spiller Comes Aboard As ECD

Breaking: Fallon Minn.’s 99 Problems – Kelly, Wiggins Depart; Spiller Comes Aboard As ECD


Recently, Fallon Minneapolis has been creeping back into the light with several account wins helping to ratchet up the momentum. And while, Fallon may have just been starting to shine on, recent developments have us wondering whether or not the shop is destined to slip back down into the darkness.

Al Kelly, who has been Executive Creative Director since 2007, has left Fallon. Where is he going? WE HEAR… that he’s been interviewing with the likes of TBWA Chiat/Day among other shops. Why did he leave? You can take your pick from about 99 problems such as: Fallon’s lack of serious commitment to building a digital capability; the intrusion of the Saatchi mindset on what was once a unique business and well, if you’re getting courted by bigger, faster more dazzling agencies – wouldn’t you bail on the tumultuous Fallon, too?

Digital Creative Director Chris Wiggins has quit as well. Too bad. He and his wife, Brenda Fogg, came up with the new social networking tool Skimmer, which was released under the Fallon banner. Just the kind of thinking death star agencies need right now. It seems that Crispin Porter recognizes the value of such ingenuity, because that’s where Wiggins is headed.

darrenspiller.jpgNaturally, you’re wondering who has been named to the ECD spot. It’s Darren Spiller (pictured right) of Publicis Mojo Melbourne who was hand picked by the Saatchi overloads that run the SSF Group. From a cursory look at his resume, Darren is an accomplished creative director, but seems to have limited digital experience. No matter. Fallon CEO Chris Foster apparently wanted one of his own. If you recall, before coming to Fallon in March 2008, Foster was the VP, Global Equity Director at Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Our understanding is that Chris is still all about the business – running a ship in which account managers have all the say from traditional creative to digital and beyond.

And hey! Where does all this leave Dave Damman who returned to work under Kelly in 2007 to heavily support the creative team?

Who knows. Fallon isn’t talking. Emails sent to the agency went unanswered. So, let’s make some bets, yeah? Ten to one – Fallon will begin to farm out its digital work to partners rather than creating work in-house. Five to one – more talented, high level creatives and planners will be looking for the escape hatch. Two to one? If you love this business, right now, you feel a deep loss for the days when Pat Fallon’s shop was blazing trails and burning up the industry.

More: Not Flash. Just SSF.