Is SSF working? When I say SSF, I could be talking about “soft science fiction” or non-sphincter splitting fistulectomy. Never fear. I am speaking of the joint venture between Saatchi and Fallon. Remember that one? Saatchi & Saatchi and Fallon beget SSF in August 2007. Robert Senior (pictured above), one of the OG founders of Fallon, is charged along with the great and wise oh-obwi-wan Roberts (Kevin, that is). The stated mission of SSF was to fuel growth for Fallon in the U.S. and provide leadership for Saatchi in the U.K. So, is it working?
Saatchi UK landed the Labour account for the now beleaguered Gordon Brown just a month after forming SSF in September 2007. Saatchi has a long history of mucking around with Labour having performed seminal work for Thatcher’s campaign. The slogan then was “Labour Isn’t Working.” The slogan now is “Not Flash. Just Gordon.” Hmm… SSF didn’t have a lot of time to make an impact on that win. It may have been that Gordon wanted to nod up and down to the past long before SSF was even a brain fart.
This year: Saatchi UK lost the pitch for The Sun, which was valued at $9M and won by EuroRSCG. They defended on the pitch for Bel Group, which they lost. It went to McCann. Saatchi had to resign the Standard Life account just after 18 months due to a conflict of interest with the agency’s AXA account. S&S picked up that $15M AXA account in May 2008. The parted company with Barclays Capital in May. It was picked up by Ogilvy in July. Doesn’t sound so good does it? I could go on…
So, how has Fallon US fared under this new management system? Big boy creatives Al Kelly (pictured above) and Todd Riddle report directly to the SSF Group. Kelly once said that:
“No matter how great a place is, when you’re in the middle of the machine, day after day, you can lose perspective.”
Has it happened yet, Al? You’ve been there since 2007, but this can’t be easy. It can’t be easy to forge ahead over at Fallon. Could it really have been that shop’s last win, Equinox, was way back a year ago? Yup. Yup. Right now, they are up for the $15M Tidy Cats account against Avrett Free Ginsberg and JWT. But, perhaps that will go the way of Bailey’s? JWT snatched it back after losing it for five years to BBH. Fallon was a contender and was eliminated early in that race. Way back in April that was.
The biggest soul crusher must have been Microsoft selecting Crispin. Just the other day, Amy Sheil, Fallon Minneapolis’ director of media, left the hood to join CP+B as co-director of the agency’s media department. You go with the title and you go where the business is good. Other departures include: Murray Hardie, previously director of planning at Fallon in Minneapolis, has joined Energy BBDO in Chicago as chief planning officer.
So, you decide. Is it working this whole SSF thing? After a year of trying to get their shops back online, it seems that neither one, on either side of the pond has yet to make a motion in the rebound direction. Yes, it’s also been just a year and what is being battled is an entrenched demoralized culture at Fallon US. Perhaps, that’s also true for Saatchi U.K. Time. More time.
On the other hand, cross your fingers for Fallon US on the Tidy Cats business. Hope they win it. For Minneapolis and the (wo)men in the trenches.